Acts of Speech

Liz Magic Laser, Yael Bartana, Metahaven, Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries

September 23, 2016December 31, 2016

Visitor Advisory: Acts of Speech will be off view Tuesday, December 6 from 3PM–Close. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Acts of Speech presents four video artworks that explore ideas of agency and political participation in relation to the 2016 Presidential election on November 8. Presented in Gund Commons, MOCA’s free public event space, this series asks us to consider the ways that the free expression of language—written, spoken, signed, or otherwise—is a powerful act that is ours to take. Acts of Speech includes works by Liz Magic Laser (1981, New York), Yael Bartana (1970, Israel), Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk’s Dutch design studio Metahaven (founded 2007), and Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries (YHCHI), the South Korea based duo of Marc Voge and Young-hae Chang (founded 1999). Each work will be screened in Gund Commons for three and a half weeks.

Liz Magic Laser’s The Thought Leader (2015) playfully critiques the Ted Talk format with a child actor reading a Fyodor Dostoyevski text from 1864 that poses questions about an individual’s role in society. Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries’ AH (2016) is a text-based, jazz infused, animated narrative that offers an intimate dialogue about the experience of both observing and being profiled—racially, ethnically, and culturally—that takes place in the United States and around the world. Yael Bartana’s True Finn (2014) is a faux reality-show docudrama that explores a geopolitical atmosphere of Nationalism. While Laser’s contribution considers the value of individualism amongst a society of many, Bartana and YHCHI’s works depict a challenging instance in which individualism becomes a cause for isolation. Further exploring this sense of isolation in an urban context, Metahaven’s City Rising (2014) invites us to consider how digitally-mediated experiences can both empower and suppress our voices today.  

Acts of Speech is curated by A. Will Brown, Assistant Curator

Screening Schedule

September 23 – October 19

Liz Magic Laser
The Thought Leader, 2015
Single-channel video, sound
9:22 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires, LA

October 20 – November 15

Yael Bartana
True Finn, 2014
Single-channel video, sound
50:38 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel Gallery, NY

November 16 – December 12

Metahaven
City Rising, 2014
Single-channel video, sound
10:40 minutes
Courtesy of the artists

December 13 – December 31

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries
AH, 2016
HD QuickTime video, sound
17:32 minutes
Courtesy of the artists

About the Artists:

Liz Magic Laser (1981, New York) lives and works in Brooklyn. She earned a BA from Wesleyan University (2003) and an MFA from Columbia University (2008). She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (2008) and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (2009). Her performances and videos intervene in semi-public spaces such as bank vestibules, movie theaters and newsrooms, and have involved collaborations with actors, dancers, and a variety of trained and untrained performers. Her recent work appropriates the dominant performance techniques and psychological strategies used by the media and politicians to sway public opinion. Most recently, her work was the subject of solo exhibitions at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2013) the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany (2013); DiverseWorks, Houston, Texas (2013) and Mälmo Konsthall, Mälmo, Sweden (2012). Her work has also been included in group exhibitions including: Research and Reporting, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014); Things, Words and Consequences, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2012); Evidence of Accumulation, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011); and Backroom, MoMA PS 1, New York (2010). 

Yael Bartana (1970, Israel) is an artist who explores the imagery of cultural identity. She studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem (1996), the School of Visual Arts, New York (1999) and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (2000). In her photographs, films and installations Bartana critically investigates her native country's struggle for identity. Central to the work are meanings implied by terms like “homeland”, “return” and “belonging”. Bartana investigates these through the ceremonies, public rituals and social diversions that are intended to reaffirm the collective identity of the nation state. Bartana’s work has been shown in numerous leading museums and biennials including: On Cohabitation: Films by Yael Bartana, The Banff Centre, Alberta (2016) which traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2016); Inferno, Stedelijk Myuseum, Amsterdam, NL (2016);  31st Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo (2014); You imagine what you desire, 19th Biennial of Sydney, PAMM, Sydney (2013); Inferno, Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2013);  2013 Carnegie International Pittsburgh, PA (2013); );Universes in Universe the 7th Berlin Biennale, Berlin (2012); and in 2011 Bartana represented Poland in the 54th edition of the Venice Biennial.


Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries is a Seoul based collaboration between Young-hae Chang and Marc Voge that was founded in 1999. YHCI creates internet based flash-animation texts set to their own music. Early pioneers of internet based video art, their work investigates a range of societal, cultural and interpersonal issues while referencing concrete poetry, film, and the news media. Their work has been shown in major art institutions including: Les Amands De Beaubourg / The Lovers of Beaubourg, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2007); BUST DOWN THE DOORS!, Kunsthalle Wein,  Germany (2007); END CREDITS, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2007); The Art of Sleep, Tate Modern, London, UK (2006,); Young- hae Chang Heavy Industries Black on White Gray Ascending New Museum, New York (2007).

Metahaven is an Amsterdam based design and research studio founded by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden in 1997.  Metahaven has come to define a new methodology in graphic design. The studio’s speculative practice uses the vocabulary of graphic design as a means of knowledge production, using it as a tool to analyze organizational models and power structures. They make films, videos, publish books and essays, work on commissioned and self-initiated projects, and collaborate on conferences and policies. Metahaven’s work has been in international group and solo exhibitions including: Metahaven: The Sprawl, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2015); Your Time is Not My Time, de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2015); Black Transparency, Future Gallery, Berlin (2015); Metahaven Selected Projects: 2010-2014, Cobra Museum, Amstelveen, The Netherlands (2014); Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud, MoMA PS1, New York (2013); and Metahaven, Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany (2009).

All 2016-2017 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 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.