A Look at The Exhibitions Debuting at MOCAD This October

Detroit’s contemporary art hub is unveiling three new exhibits
richard prince - mocad
Richard Prince: Portraits will be on display at MOCAD until Jan. 5. // Photograph courtesy of Pat Elifritz.

On Oct. 25, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit — Midtown’s renowned space for boundary-pushing works of art from across the globe — will debut its latest exhibitions. With projects ranging from a wild and vibrant outdoor installation to a gallery of unique portraits to the moving works of artists from South Africa, this season is set to captivate and impress. Here’s the low-down on the major exhibits. 


Richard Prince: Portraits

Richard Prince has been collecting images from American subcultures since the ’70s, and his artistic studies on appropriation, context, and ownership have garnered international attention. He’s had solo exhibitions at places like the Whitney Museum of American Art, and his work is in the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 


This installation, which runs until Jan. 5 in MOCAD’s largest gallery space, is titled Portraits. The exhibit contains a series of photographs showcased on large canvases that are made to look like Instagram posts. Each photo speaks to different aspects of youth culture, contemporary art, and the eclectic aesthetics of social media. Prince himself even “comments” on many of the Instagram “posts.”


Crossing Night: Regional Identities x Global Context

Musa N Nxumalo’s Untitled (12)-In Glorious Series, 2019 is part of the Crossing Nights exhibition at MOCAD until Feb. 2. // Photograph Courtesy of the Artist

On display until Feb. 2, Crossing Night: Regional Identities x Global Context is curated by MOCAD and the South African nonprofit A4 Arts Foundation, with additional pieces coming from The Wedge Collection in Toronto. The exhibition presents a selection of works by contemporary artists in southern Africa that range in medium and style, with photos, videos, sculptures, and installation works all being on display. The art explores the legacy of post-colonial structures and how forces such as politics and urban landscape shape the regional culture in South Africa.


To further engage the public in conversation surrounding these works, MOCAD is organizing a series of programs called States of Flux. Using talks, performances, and workshops, the series is intended to serve help create understanding between our community here in southeastern Michigan and South Africa.


Robolights Detroit

This site-specific installation by Kenny Irwin Jr. runs through May 3 and is based on the original Robolights, which was a 33-year-in-the-making project that Irwin assembled by hand on the lawn of his family’s home in Palm Springs, California. The original Robolights was a complex series of sculptures made from discarded and donated household items. By 2016, the extravaganza of found objects had amassed around 8 million lights. And in 2018, having attracted 72,000 people from Thanksgiving to New Year alone, it was outgrowing its residential space.


Irwin has now created a new, smaller version of Robolights specifically for MOCAD that will be placed in the museum on the lawn of Mobile Homestead, which is a full-scale replica of a ranch-style home that was made by the late artist Mike Kelly. Irwin worked around the clock for 70 days to construct this luminous sci-fi display. Visitors will be able to roam winding pathways of whimsical sculptures of alien spaceships, robots, dinosaurs, microwaves, snails, and an array of other objects all wrapped in colorful lights and painted in vibrant colors.

 For more information, visit mocadetroit.org