Performance and video artists Antonia Wright invites you to sit on the couch she has brought in to her temporary studio, which is at MOCA, one of five that make up “Trading Places II.” It’s a unique project first inaugurated in 2005 by museum director Bonnie Clearwater, to get artists involved with each other and with the community. This second installment, appropriately enough because of its community-oriented mission, is funded by the Knight Arts Partnership, part of the Knight Exhibition Series.
A video of Wright’s is showing on one wall of her space, while little and big notes that inspire her also hang on the walls. One references Bruce Nauman, another the brilliant book from Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls. Since this collaborative program started several weeks ago, she has worked with fellow artist Magnus Sigurdarson, across the hall, to come up with mini-videos that they likely will show during the run of this “exhibit.” But who knows, says Clearwater, anything can happen. And that’s exactly as planned. Whatever art pops up, whatever collaborations occur will happen organically – none of the artists, whom she chose as being at special times in their careers, was told they had to do or make anything. They would use this huge, interactive space that is the main gallery of MOCA as they saw fit. Visitors could make comments, or simply watch the process of art making.
Clearwater picked out an incredibly diverse group, as is reflective of Miami itself; a mix of ages, gender, race, ethnic origin. Wright is a Cuban American, Sigurdarson is Icelandic. In another studio across from him is a new Miami resident, Haitian-born Rick Ulysse, who has been hanging up his black-and-white drawings, the first time he has seen them all together. Onajide Shabaka holds up the back of the space, with a curved wall that he requested, on which he is creating a mural. He has been working as an artist and teacher for decades, from Minnesota to Ft. Lauderdale. Next to him, and almost in opposition in terms of career, is recent New World grad Dona Altemus, who has covered her walls with quilts and paintings, and the floor with precisely placed debris. This is just a cursory description of the art that is going on, in progress, at MOCA. It will likely look different next week, and the week after. By the time the exhibit closes on Nov. 11, there will have been performances (Sigurdarson threatens to bring in a choir) and more new works.
Don’t miss a chance to stop by and watch this unfold.
“Trading Places II” runs through Nov. 11 at MOCA, 770 N.E. 125th St., North Miami; mocanomi.org.