While The Studio Museum in Harlem constructs a new building on the site of their longtime home on West 125th Street, MoMA PS1 will present the Studio Museum’s annual Artist-in-Residence exhibition. MOOD is the inaugural exhibition of this partnership, featuring the work of the Studio Museum’s 2018-19 residents Allison Janae Hamilton (b. 1984, Lexington, KY), Tschabalala Self (b. 1990, New York, NY) , and Sable Elyse Smith (b. 1986, Los Angeles, CA). The exhibition is presented as part of a multi-year partnership between The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA PS1. Building on the institutions’ existing affiliations and shared values, this wide-ranging collaboration encompasses exhibitions and programming at both The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1.
MOOD explores site, place, and time as they relate to American identity and popular culture, past and present. The exhibition resituates the often trending social media hashtag (#mood), which describes moments both profound and banal: anything can be “a #mood.” Working across a range of media and materials, each artist manifests their perception of the present moment in the United States, while creating passageways to new worlds. MOOD maps out each artist’s psychic landscape, presenting distinct snapshots that travel through and beyond the fabric of digital culture.
Layering video, haunting sculptural forms, found objects, and photography, Allison Janae Hamilton’s immersive installation explores spirituality and mysticism as tied to the American South. A native Floridian, Hamilton calls on the South’s coastal landscape to navigate the fault lines of wildness and civility. Hamilton’s installation disorients with its sinister undertone, speaking to the enduring traumas of racial violence and economic exploitation of the South.
Tschabalala Self’s new series, Street Scenes, pays homage to the energy of the city, from the frenetic visual culture of bodegas to the communal experience of waiting at a bus stop. These large-scale printed, painted, and collage works create a cityscape that brings the vibrancy and energy of Harlem into focus. Growing up nearby and inspired by her return to Harlem through this residency, Self creates fictional figures rooted in daily rhythms and routines in and around the neighborhood.
Sable Elyse Smith’s conceptual sculptures and two-dimensional works interrogate the instability of economy, language, power, and the construct of social history. Smith’s work underscores the banality of violence at an institutional scale, and explores how trauma embeds itself in the everyday. Smith roots this collection of work in the visual vernacular of the prison industrial complex—visitor tables, coloring books made available in correctional facilities, and commissary ramen noodles used as a form of commerce. Smith’s treatment of these ordinary objects raises issues of labor, class, and memory, evoking new associations within the seemingly familiar.
As part of her presentation, Smith has created Itinerant Hustle/American Stylist in collaboration with Henry Murphy, a mixtape that accompanies Smith's works in the exhibition.