MUSEUM OF ART AND DESIGN AT MDC PRESENTS THE EXHIBITION SUPERFLEX: WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT
Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) will present SUPERFLEX: We Are All in the Same Boat, the first large-scale exhibition of the critically acclaimed Danish collective SUPERFLEX in the United States. On view in the Museum’s newly renovated facility at MDC’s Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, the exhibition will focus on the group’s humorous and playfully subversive installations and films that deal with the economy, financial crisis, corruption, migration, and the possible consequences of global warming. SUPERFLEX: We Are All in the Same Boat will be on view from Nov. 15 through April 21, 2019.
The title of the exhibition, We Are All in the Same Boat, sets its tone and theme. The figure of speech envisions passengers together in a ship at sea, and a set of shared risks that may put them in danger. It is an idiom that suggests that if our boat sinks, we all sink with it; but if it stays afloat, we might reach the shore. Our collective danger implies a collective responsibility and a need to collaborate so that our ship does not capsize. The title is both poetic and dark. It obviously refers to the simple importance of sharing and working together collaboratively, but also to problems that we now face and the current global situation. Talk about change is not enough. We need to act. At times like these it is imperative to work together to find solutions for the most threatening problems we may ever have confronted.
While everybody talks about the weather, during the last two decades, global warming, and climate change have been increasingly discussed and debated. A long tradition exists within the arts of discussing the relation, and subject, human versus nature, but recently the consequences of human impact, interference, and possible trigger of the twenty-first century’s climate changes have echoed within the art scene in a more activist way. The Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX was founded by Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, Jakob Fenger, and Rasmus Nielsen in 1993, and since then the three artists have gained international recognition for their DIY and activist approach. SUPERFLEX looks at subjects that generate discussion around migration, alternative energy, political awareness, distribution of wealth and the power of global capital. SUPERFLEX’s works are often interactive and engage the public in multiple ways.
Organized by MOAD, the exhibition will include a group of video, sculpture, and installation works selected for their relevance to the history, present, and future of the City of Miami. The works will reflect upon the situation of Miami from the perspectives of art, finance, climate, and a fictional, if plausible, future. The topics of water, migration, refugees, and the economy inevitably drive the conception of We Are All in the Same Boat. The exhibition features major new works—We Are All in the Same Boat and Euphoria Now—commissioned by the Museum, as well as Lost Money(2009), in which the artists affix coins to the floor, inviting both the visitors’ acquisitiveness and frustration. The video Flooded McDonald’s (2009) depicts just that, an entirely convincing replica of an uninhabited fast-food franchise slowly filling with water in a deadpan apocalyptic deluge. A vanitas painting extended in time, at ten days (240 hours) in length, Modern Times Forever(2011) is billed as “the longest film ever made,” and depicts Helsinki’s landmark Stora Enso building, designed by Alvar Aalto in 1962, as it falls into ruin and decay over the course of 5,000 years. The banners of Bankrupt Banks (2012) bear the corporate logos of failed financial institutions, representing an ironically triumphal celebration of global economic crisis since 2008.
In The Corrupt Show (2013) visitors accept the bribe of a lollipop to sign a contract that commits them to actively participate, and to solicit others to participate, in corruption, as defined by the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Hung on the wall, the signed contracts implicate the artists, the viewers, the museum, and the exhibition itself in public corruption, forgery, bribery, and embezzlement, which threaten the stability and security of society; undermine the institutions and values of democracy, ethics, and justice; and jeopardize sustainable development and the rule of law. The film Kwassa Kwassa (2015) follows a group of fishing boat builders on the island of Anjouan, part of the Comoro Islands, off Africa’s southeastern coast. From there, fiberglass boats carry hopeful migrants seventy kilometers to Mayotte, a French territory that is the outermost region of the European Union. Yet more than 10,000 people have died making the dangerous journey.
The exhibition will also include the American premiere of SUPERFLEX’s newest film, Western Rampart (2018). Named after the Vestvolden, the last historical fortifications constructed to protect the city of Copenhagen, the work obliquely considers borders and migration through a conversation between a wall and of a giant anthropomorphic mushroom.
SUPERFLEX is known for its interest in unifying urban spaces and commenting on society with authenticity through art. The artists describe their practice as the provision of “tools” that affect or influence a social or economic context. Previous projects include paying visitors to enter their exhibition; the development and marketing of a new beverage, Free Beer; and the production of a self-sufficient, portable biogas unit to provide energy for a family. The group’s projects are often rooted in their particular local contexts and invite visitors’ participation. SUPERFLEX works outside traditional art contexts, collaborating with designers, engineers, businesses, and marketers on projects that have the potential for social or economic change. SUPERFLEX has worked with community groups, NGOs, and large architectural companies such as Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to realize their projects. They remain difficult to pigeonhole yet continue to innovate in their approach to current issues.
The members of SUPERFLEX have used their position as artists to pose questions of political, economic, and environmental behavior and responsibility. Through their work with contracts and instructions, SUPERFLEX has examined how we interact in public space. The group has looked at how small changes within language can break daily patterns and routines; small linguistic “obstructions” enable us to act and think differently in social situations in daily life. The topics of workers’ rights, copyrights, human rights, and environmental rights are real, they are global, and they are important; by twisting them slightly from their original context SUPERFLEX playfully manages to create conversations around these pressing issues.
SUPERFLEX: We Are All in the Same Boat is curated by Jacob Fabricius, Artistic Director of Kunsthal Aarhus. An accompanying catalogue to be published jointly by MOAD and Hatje Cantz will reflect the exhibition’s topics. Contributing writers will reflect on how climate change, migration, and unequal distribution of wealth will influence the future of Miami. An introduction by Fabricius will be followed by essays about the consequences of flooding, specifically the influence of water rising in Miami, by Stephanie Wakefield and Gean Moreno; about the economy, corruption, money laundering, and the consequences of a destabilized financial system influenced by corruption by George Yudice; and a fictional text about water, flooding, and the future of Miami by science-fiction writer Mark von Schlegell.
In April 2018, Museum of Art and Design at MDC reopened after a year and a half of extensive renovations and upgrades to its physical plant, and simultaneously rolled out its new programmatic mission, which more closely aligns it to the core values of MDC: examining contemporary cultural and social issues in close collaboration with partners in the community and city, helping to foster inclusivity and resilience. MOAD’s programming continues to align the Museum to these values while bringing Miami an unparalleled schedule of exhibition on the leading edge of art and design, and public programs that engage diverse audiences in the College and in the community.
Dates: Thursday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, April 21, 2019
Museum of Art and Design at MDC
600 Biscayne Boulevard
Hours: Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays 1– 6 p.m., Saturdays 1-8 p.m.
Museum admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5students (13–17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under.