Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
Projects Gallery, second floor
Projects 97: Mark Boulos
March 19-July 16, 2012
In his documentary video installations, Mark Boulos (b. 1975, United States) investigates the space between abstract concepts and material reality. The two-channel video installation All That Is Solid Melts into Air juxtaposes two communities at opposite ends of the world, each struggling to control petroleum. One video depicts floor brokers in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading petroleum contracts during the first days of the financial crisis in 2008. The other presents footage from the artist’s experience living among Nigerian fishermen, members of the militant organization Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who live in one of the largest oil fields in the world. Fighting to alleviate the poverty of the population, the guerilla group violently battles the exploitation of the natural environment. The conflict between the guerillas and national government, which benefits from its contracts with international corporations, has escalated over the past few decades. Simultaneously, the local residents compete for the resource by seizing it directly from pipelines. For the brokers, on the other hand, who never see or touch the substance, oil is a virtual commodity with quasi-mystical properties. Inspired by the potential for a more equal distribution of the world’s wealth, Boulos has titled the installation after a passage from the Communist Manifesto (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich
Engels, in which the authors condemn the capitalist system and its detrimental effects on the working class and social relations at large.
Projects 97 is organized by Cara Starke, former Assistant Curator at MoMA and current Director of Exhibitions at Creative Time, and Stephanie Weber, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art. The Elaine Dannheisser Projects series is coordinated by Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director, The Museum of Modern Art.
Mark Boulos lives and works in Amsterdam and London. He received a BA in philosophy from Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, in 1998, and an MA in film and television, documentary direction, from the National Film and Television School, Beaconsfield, England, in 2005. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Miami Art Museum (2011); Ar-Ge Kunst, Bolzano, Italy (2010); and Stedelijk Museum, CS, Amsterdam (2008). He was also included in group exhibitions at the Sundance Film Festival (2011); Berlin Biennale (2010); Center for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2009); Biennial of Sydney, Australia (2008); and Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2004).
Curators Cara Starke is currently the Director of Exhibitions at Creative Time. As Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, at MoMA, from 2005 to 2011, she co-organized Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception• (2011), Projects 93: Dinh Q. Le (2010), and William Kentridge: Five Themes (2010). She also collaborated on numerous other exhibitions, including Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters) (2008), Take your time: Olafur Eliasson (2008), Doug Aitken: sleepwalkers (2007), and Douglas Gordon: Timeline (2006). Ms. Starke received an MA in art history from Williams College.
Stephanie Weber, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art, joined the Museum in 2010. Ms. Weber has collaborated on several exhibitions, including Projects 93: Dinh Q. Le (2010), Looking at Music 3.0 (2011), and Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception (2011). Ms. Weber received an MA in history of art, french literature and linguistics, and cultural studies (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster/Germany, 2004) and a postgraduate degree in Museum Studies from Ecole du Louvre in Paris (2005).