Exploring MOCAD’s Upcoming Exhibit Useless Utility

Curator Jova Lynne captures a time where labor and play co-exist
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IRIS EICHENBERG, SETTING THE TABLE (2018) // PHOTO COURTESY OF MOCAD

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s soon-to-open exhibit, Useless Utility, investigates an omnipresent reality where an all-consuming work life and everyday domesticity blend; a product of America’s deindustrialization.

Employing Southeast Michigan-based artists that either originate from, are inspired by, or live in Detroit, the exhibit features over 20 objects that explore this relationship — one where dedicated, separate spaces of work and life are seemingly relics for a present where both take place in a single environment.

The common materials and functions found in home and co-working offices, as well as open floor factories and live work studios influenced these artists and their studio practices. Their works question and ask visitors of Useless Utility what the future might look like for such a hybrid lifestyle.

Threading themes of the Northern America rust belt’s politics and culture throughout the exhibit, featured artists James Benjamin Franklin, Tyanna Buie, Iris Eichenberg, Osman Khan, Tiff Massey and Tony Rave reflect on the power that a series of objects, and the materials that they’re made of, can hold.

Together these innovators of material manipulation are setting out to capture this spirit of work-live spaces into an archive, one consisting of paintings, multimedia work, and sculptures that capture how functionality can affect self perception, regional cultures, and societal standards.

Jova Lynne, the curator of the introspective exhibition, is a Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow at MOCAD who has served as a Department Assistant at Cranbrook’s Academy of Art and has curated exhibitions at Yer buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

MOCAD is celebrating the exhibition opening of Useless Utility on Feb. 1, 2019 with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m. that includes a live DJ set with John FM and a performance by electronic artist Tetra. 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit; 313-832-6622; mocadetroit.org

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Related: Fine Art and Fashion Collide at the Detroit Institute of Art’s Latest Exhibit

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