Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible

January 27, 2017May 14, 2017

Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptibleis the largest solo presentation of the artist’s work to date. The title of the exhibition is derived from the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, who assert that “to go unnoticed, is by no means easy,” and positions Pendleton’s practice as a form of counter-portraiture. The works on view explore visual and cultural framing practices to re-contextualize European, African, and American aesthetic and cultural movements from Minimalism and Dada to Black Lives Matter.

The exhibition brings together works that exemplify the artist's diverse practice, including a large-scale vinyl wall work, Black Lives Matter #3 (wall work) (2015), two films, the 3-channel installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard (2011–14) and a newly finished single-channel film JUST BACK FROM LOS ANGELES: A PORTRAIT OF YVONNE RAINER (2016), as well as floor-based abstract ceramic sculptures Code Poems (2016), and works from Pendleton's ongoing series of Black Dada paintings.
Narrating the soundscape of the gallery, the 3-screen film installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard offers an intimate depiction of Hilliard, an educator and the former founding Chief of Staff of the Black Panther Party. The film was shot in Oakland, CA as Pendleton accompanied Hilliard through neighborhoods that were once home to the Black Panther Movement during the 1960s. Hilliard is presented from multiple perspectives, creating an abstract narrative that challenges assumptions about history as a series of singular events built on objective truths. 
Central to the exhibition are works that rearticulate Conceptual and Minimalist art practices. Pendleton’s Black Dada paintings, an ongoing body of work the artist began in 2008, recontextualize the phrase “Black Dada” by reframing the letters of each word with cropped images of Sol Lewitt’s Incomplete Open Cube sculptures (1974). Another series, Untitled (water) (2014) appropriates photographs of water surfaces taken by Josef Albers in 1929 to explore ideas about order and disorder. These two bodies of work, like many in Pendleton’s oeuvre, bring together historic forms of avant-garde discourse to prompt reconsiderations of familiar cultural referents.
Alongside these works, MOCA is pleased to present Pendleton’s newest work, a third film portrait, JUST BACK FROM LOS ANGELES: A PORTRAIT OF YVONNE RAINER (2016), in the Cohen Gallery.  In the film, choreographer, filmmaker, and writer, Yvonne Rainer is in conversation with Pendleton at a diner in Chelsea, New York. At Pendleton’s request she reads a script derived from a wide range of fragmented historic and personal sources, including Rainer’s own writings, a text by Stokely Carmichael, a 1964 Malcolm X speech, and segments from Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (2016). As she reads, contemporary scenes are juxtaposed with an earlier film of Rainer performing her choreographic work, Trio A (1966).  Reflecting the sociopolitical imperatives in the work of both artists, this new portrait offers a way to deconstruct the past with the present, blending form with language to articulate ideas about inequality, racism, and violence. 

Becoming Imperceptible is curated by Andrea Andersson Ph. D., the Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) New Orleans, and was originated by the CAC. MOCA Cleveland’s presentation of Becoming Imperceptible is organized by Senior Curator Andria Hickey. 

Adam Pendleton (1984, Richmond, CA) lives and works in New York. Pendleton attended the Artspace Independent Study Program in Pietrasanta, Italy (2000-2002). Solo exhibitions include Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2016), Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Colorado (2016), Pace Gallery, New York, New York (2014), Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, Illinois (2014), Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indiana (2008). Group exhibitions including The Revolution Will Not Be Grey, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2016), The Language of Things, Public Art Fund New York, New York (2016), Young, Gifted and Black, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2015), Personne et les autres, Belgian Pavilion, 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venizia, Venice, Italy (2015), Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2014). His work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.

Generous support for MOCA Cleveland’s presentation of Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible is provided by Toby Devan Lewis, and The City of Cleveland Cable Television Minority Arts & Education Fund of the Cleveland Foundation. Additional support provided by Pace Gallery.
In kind support for the production of Black Lives Matter #3 (wall work), 2015 is provided by Astek, Inc.
All 2017 exhibitions are funded by Leadership Circle gifts from an anonymous donor, Yuval Brisker, Joanne Cohen and Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, Becky Dunn, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Michelle Shan-Jeschelnig and Richard Jeschelnig, Donna and Stewart Kohl, Toby Devan Lewis, and Scott Mueller.
All MOCA Cleveland exhibitions are supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the continuing support of the Museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members.