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MoMA to Show First U.S. Survey of Aernout Mik's Moving Installations
Aernout Mik. (Dutch, b. 1962), Osmosis and Excess. 2005. Single-channel video installation (color, silent), looped. Courtesy the artist and carlier | gebauer, Berlin. © 2009 Aernout Mik.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art presents the exhibition Aernout Mik. In this first North American survey of the artist’s work, MoMA will have on view eight installations in gallery and non-gallery spaces throughout the Museum, ranging from Mik’s first filmed work Fluff (1996) to Schoolyard (2009), which was commissioned by the Museum for the exhibition. In his work Mik is distinguished for his ability to combine, shift, and transform artistic practices and upend traditional modes of artistic presentation. He accomplishes this by creating installations that integrate moving images, sculpture, and architecture into single constructions, specifically designing and building structures that hold his silent, looped films. The resulting installations are innovative in their design and unsettling as an experience.

In the main lobby of the Museum, the single-screen floor piece Middlemen (2001) will greet visitors. As with his other works, Mik subtly choreographs viewers through the shape and size of the construction, both in determining where they will stand and how viewers engage with the moving images as well as with other observers of the work.

The essential component in each of Mik’s installations is the projected image, each elaborately devised and filmed by the artist. In his moving images Mik implies current societal issues, from economic crises and immigration struggles to parliamentary clashes and outright warfare. Although Mik’s films appear to document actual events, the scenes are often fully staged by the artist, challenging viewers’ systems of belief and interrogating the viewer’s ideas of narrative and reality. In Middlemen, Mik portrays a stock market floor or commodities exchange peopled with workers who appear to be nervously awaiting something unknown. Capturing the internal anxieties of these “middlemen,” the camera’s movements—long pans mixed with close-up details that jump to wider views of the room—mimic the motions of the bodies and emphasize the jittery atmosphere felt within the space.

Another major installation is Vacuum Room (2005), on view in the Special Exhibitions gallery on the Museum’s second floor. The work comprises a freestanding architectural structure that displays a six-channel installation projected onto six walls that delineate an interior space scattered with floor pillows and chairs. The silent, looped films document an ambiguous conflict among a band of rebels within a legislative or judicial chamber. However, as with most of Mik’s works, the exact setting of the film is left unclear. Mik’s 2006 installation Training Ground will also be on display within the same gallery. Also on view at MoMA are Raw Footage (2006), his only piece edited from actual newsreel tapes; Scapegoats (2006); and Osmosis and Excess (2006).

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