Josh Kline: Freedom
Jul 23, 2016 – Nov 13, 2016
Widely recognized as one of the most influential artists of his generation, Josh Kline (American, b. 1979) focuses on the ways technological innovations affect politics, labor, and the human body. Josh Kline: Freedom examines politicians, protest movements, and surveillance tactics in our digital age. Employing sculpture and installation, Kline ruminates on the effects of economic downturn, the ongoing war on terror, and the visible and invisible means of control that corporations, governments, and police forces exercise today.
The exhibition unfolds over three segments. In a reimagined Zuccotti Park (site of the Occupy Wall Street protest encampment in 2011), a glowing monitor plays a remake of Obama’s historic 2008 inaugural speech. The video foregrounds the move from populist groundswell toward political activism born out of the financial crisis and furthered by incidences of police brutality and civil rights violations. Here Teletubby riot police stand amidst cell-phone tower trees sprouting credit cards, zip-tie handcuffs and discarded plastic bags. Videos embedded in their torsos blend the identities of activists and retired police officers who read from social media posts describing protest actions in a conflation of opinion, documentation, and surveillance. A second installation features grids of replicated donuts bearing police crests, handcuffs, asphalt, broken auto glass, and other referents to the streets where such actions take place. The third installation considers the continuing global impact of the Iraq War through speculative apologies from the leaders who led the West into the conflict.
Kline fleshes out a complex historical trajectory with the intertwined empathy and dystopian thinking associated with science fiction or the alternative histories presented in popular Hollywood fictions. Freedom asks us to confront the recent past and its repercussions, while contemplating our roles as citizens in this pivotal moment when the uses of technology and data, notions of privacy, and the social order quickly shift around us.
The multimedia exhibition marks the relaunch of the Museum’s Miller Meigs Series of contemporary art exhibitions under the direction of Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
“I am excited to reboot our contemporary art exhibition series with Josh Kline: Freedom,” said Krajewski. “This exhibition brings an activist’s sensibility into the gallery, tackling timely issues head-on. My plans for the Miller Meigs series are to bring cutting edge work to Portland audiences and facilitate ambitious projects from some of today’s most compelling artists.”
Curated by Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.