Art that makes you think | The living
Kahlil Robert Irving, a multimedia artist who creates dense assemblages of images and sculptural replicas of everyday objects, is currently showing his exhibition “Projects: Kahlil Robert Irving” at the Museum of Modern Art.
His work will be on display in the museum’s galleries at street level from December 18, 2021 to May 1, 2022.
A press release describes the exhibition as a collection of works created between 2018 and 2021, its inspiration being the internet functioning as a living archive of black life, death, remembrance, celebration and survival. He also points to the imagery centered around a larger-than-life site-specific wallpaper where the street-level space and digital scrolling join in what he calls “an eternal feedback loop of. my experience”.
“Some aspects of my exhibit are autobiographical, while others are part of my greater experience in communities across the United States,” he said.
“There are works for the wall that use technology as a starting point, related to social media, the photographs I took and current events. The sculptures in the middle of the space relate to historical decorative objects that tell a contemporary story. The sculptures use very dynamic processes to create them, some sculptures have been adjusted and have more than ten layers on them. Really, the exhibit is about speed and thoughtfulness.
He said his fusion of materials and references for the work was intentionally done with the refusal to make everything explicitly readable in mind.
“Work makes it possible to have room for the ways of life of blacks. . . for more of the complicated nature of our existence in places and spaces, ”he said.
The exhibit is curated by Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Legacy Russell, Executive Director and Chief Curator, The Kitchen.
“Like the Internet, an unlimited and dynamic space that fuels the imagination of Kahlil Robert Irving, the artist’s new installation is compelling and multi-layered, and opens path after path for the viewer,” Golden said. “The Studio Museum in Harlem is proud to continue its collaboration with MoMA by presenting this extraordinary exhibition, which is as historic as it is timely and forward-thinking.”
She said that after people view her exhibit, she hopes people recognize and appreciate Irving’s spirit of discovery and his in-depth investigation into contemporary imagery.
As deeply as he reflects on the weight of black history through digital imagery, including the burdens and challenges that are still so present and so public, Kahlil’s work remains beautifully open to the world and its endless possibilities, ”she said.
He said it was surreal to see his work showcased at MoMa.
“Exhibiting at MoMA is scary, in part, because the pandemic has broken down so much and I greatly appreciate the chance that my work is still showcased and disseminated to the world,” he said. “I feel privileged and excited to have met everyone I have.”
Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator of the St. Louis Museum of Contemporary Art, had the pleasure of co-organizing Irving’s “At Dusk” exhibition alongside Misa Jeffereis, Assistant Curator, at CAM STL at Named after The Great Rivers Biennial, a Gateway Foundation-funded program is committed to supporting the work of local artists.
Al-Khudhairi said she and Jeffereis assembled a national panel of jurors who helped select three winners to receive $ 20,000 and a solo exhibit at the museum. In 2020, Irving was one of three winners to receive a grand prize. His work has been exhibited from September 2020 to February 2021.
She said she had had a great experience working with him and was delighted to have her work showcased at MoMa.
“I hope that anyone who sees her current exhibition can find something that they can relate to in her work,” she said. “I think his work creates commonalities for people to connect with, and it gets them to learn more, to understand more and to question notions.”
He said the message he wants people to take back from his work is that hard times may be upon us, but that will only change if we are willing to grow and change.
“The track we are on is stable. How to change course? It’s up to us collectively to make the difference, ”he said. “My setup replaces a lot of moving parts that always make it like a puzzle and now we really have to put the pieces together. “
Learn more about the Irving exhibit here: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/5396.