October 2008, MOCA Dark Continents curated by Ruba Katrib

October 2008, MOCA Dark Continents curated by Ruba Katrib
Marlene McCarty GROUP 3 (tanjung Putting Borneo. 1971) 2007 Ballpoint pen and graphite on paper 107.5 x 110 in.


MOCA, North Miami
Dark Continents
September 25, 2008 through November 9, 2008
Curated by Ruba Katrib
Featuring: Ida Ekblad, Hadassah Emmerich, Naomi Fisher, Elke Krystufek, Marlene McCarty, Claudia & Julia Muller, and Paulina Olowska

Indigenous people, women artists, and nature dominate the Dark Continents exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art. With a blend of installation art, films, and other mixed mediums, the cohesive themes of primitive, exotic, and femininity make for an interesting combination of new and old. The seven women artists come from diverse backgrounds and various countries creating a collaboration which makes the exhibit interesting and a little strange at times.

Elke Krystufek's Lakshmi was the first piece that I came upon. Both striking and overwhelming, the acrylic on canvas work was a nod at eastern Hindu religion mixed with overt sexual references and female power. Covered in what seemed to be a conversation between two people, perhaps even herself and the goddess depicted in the painting. It seemed she wanted to intertwine her strength as a woman and the primitive needs of all humans and gods.

Polish artist Paulina Olowska's From Nothing to Something being placed next to The Absinthe Drinker was intriguing. From Nothing to Something is a large collage and acrylic piece that made me recall childhood memories: a return to a happy, carefree time. So when I turned to see the small Absinthe Drinker, it left me feeling sad. The painting was so tiny compared to the other: a close-up of a lone drinker. I'm hoping the placing was strategic, wanting the viewer to be affected emotionally.

Speaking of emotions, Naomi Fisher's video installation Grotto Dancing was shown in a room by itself. Painted red walls and women acting primal, wild, and goddess-like brought out a feeling of anger. Not at her work, but the women themselves. The dancing, screaming, and the over use of the color red evoked a small sense of rage in me that made me unable to be in the room for more than a minute or two. Perhaps that was the point.

For me the two artists that really stood out were Marlene McCarty and Hadassah Emmerich. Marlene McCarty's Group 2 and Group 3 are made from a ballpoint pen and graphite on paper and are huge in size. They detail true stories of primates and people interacting together. The ink work is amazing. I stood in awe for quite awhile admiring the intricate shading. The somewhat sexual nature of the woman and primates reminds me that we share roughly 98% of the same DNA.

I couldn't stop looking at Hadassah Emmerich's The Sungod. I found myself strangely attracted to this mixed media work. I walked the whole exhibit, but kept coming back to her work. Emmerich's Witches Mirror also caught my eye as one of the best pieces there. The mix of subdued colors and silver shine made me want to reach out and touch it. I didn't of course, but I did lean in close and really examine her creative style. I felt drawn to them; like a strange, out of focus dream that I couldn't quite remember, but knew that the images were in my subconscious somewhere.

The opening and closing pieces are both films. The first film is the sequel to the last film in the show. I was unaware that the films were connected beyond the fact that they were from the same artist, Elke Krystufek. While watching some of the last film Dr. Love on Easter Island, I was approached by a few people who informed me how incredible the movie is and if I ever get the chance I should rent it to watch it in its entirety. I think I will.

Overall, MOCA's Dark Continents did not disappoint. Like any show, some pieces failed to excite me, some just left me confused, but others made me want to see more. I am looking to the future to see what else these women produce and to the past to see if maybe I have missed some of their other phenomenal works.

whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.

Nikki Durling

Nikki Durling graduated from the University of Florida with a
Bachelor's degree in French and Art History. She is writer in Orlando
and Miami.      nikkidurling@gmail.com

view all articles from this author