MOCA Toronto Announces Winter/Spring 2022 Programming

The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA) announced its winter/spring 2022 calendar of exhibitions featuring exhibitions by American artist Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw/Cherokee), Cuban-born, American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Iranian-born, New York-based artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat.

MOCA will also host a series of new projects by Ontario-based artists Maria Qamar and Xuan Ye in the North End gallery space on Floor 1 as well as a new sound art commission by Debashis Sinha for the South End stairwell at the Museum.

“MOCA’s inaugural museum-wide triennial survey Greater Toronto Art 2021 will come to a close in early 2022. Our focus in the new year will turn to a slate of exhibitions and commissions by acclaimed international artists. The multidisciplinary nature of the exhibitions reflects MOCA’s desire to share a diversity of contemporary artistic expression with the community,” said MOCA Executive Director and CEO Kathleen Bartels.

Land of Dreams – Shirin Neshat, Floor 2,
March 10 – July 31, 2022

Land of Dreams, Shirin Neshat’s first major exhibition in Canada in 20 years, includes her recent work of the same title that sees the convergence of photography and film into one immersive experience that presents a portrait of contemporary America. In the first part of the film we follow the fictional character Simin, an estranged Iranian photographer, who travels through rural America knocking on citizens’ doors to shoot their portraits and to document their dreams.

Shirin Neshat – Manuel Martinez, from Land of Dreams series, 2019. Digital c-print with ink and acrylic paint. Copyright Shirin Neshat. Courtesy the artist, Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels, and Courtesy Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.

In the second, we enter the clinical dystopian interiors of a bureaucratic Iranian colony housed within the mountains. Here, Simin’s portraits and dream documents are logged and analysed by the protagonist alongside fellow Iranians in lab coats.

The film is set in dialogue with over 100 portraits of individuals who represent the photographs that Simin would have shot during her interview process. They capture a diverse range of American experiences, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx peoples of many ages and genders. A number of the portraits are inscribed with hand-written Farsi calligraphy, which annotates the subjects’ dreams or notes their name and place and date of birth.

The work Land of Dreams is a major artistic statement that has enabled Neshat to discover new dimensions to her research and surrealist approach. To complement this important installation, the exhibition at MOCA also includes two of Neshat’s seminal films Roja (2016) and Rapture (1999), as well as photographs from the series Women of Allah (1993-1997), introducing the expanse of her work to a new generation of audiences in Canada. The project will be enhanced by a set of public programmes including screenings, talks, and a specially produced interview with Neshat in Farsi organized by guest curator Farnoosh Talaee. 

I AM YOUR RELATIVE – Jeffrey Gibson, Floor 1
March 10 – July 31, 2022

Jeffrey Gibson – Because Once You Enter My House, It Becomes Our House, Socrates Sculpture Park, 2020-2021, Photo: Brian Barlow.

I AM YOUR RELATIVE, is a multi-purpose installation featuring 15 moveable stages that will populate the Museum’s Floor 1. Co-commissioned by MOCA and the Toronto Biennial of Art (TBA), the surface of the stages will become an archive over time as they are covered with posters created by Jeffrey Gibson that incorporate text and images from local historical archives and from the public. This visual archive, which prioritizes Indigenous, Black, Brown, and queer voices, speaks to what histories are remembered and how. The project will catalyze valuable community and professional creative relationships that will inform moments of activation throughout the run of the project. Over the course of the exhibition, the stages will host artists’ performances, talks, workshops, and gatherings, amplifying community voices past and present and supported through robust research, coordination, and production

Gibson is an interdisciplinary artist based in Hudson, NY. His artworks make reference to various aesthetic and material histories rooted in Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and in modern and contemporary subcultures. He is known for creating visually rich paintings and sculptures that mix material, saturated colour, pattern, image, and text to celebrate and amplify the voices of individuals and communities both past and present.
Access the link for the Open Call and how to submit materials here.

Summer – Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Floor 3,
March 10 – July 31, 2022

Summer will be the first solo exhibition in Canada of acclaimed conceptual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996). Spanning exceptional works on loan from major institutions, the exhibition generates questions surrounding our complex relationship to place: the social and natural landscape.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (Toronto), 1992, light bulbs, porcelain light sockets, and electrical cord. Overall dimensions vary with installation. © Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Courtesy of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation.

Up until his death in 1996 from AIDS-related illness, Gonzalez-Torres rigorously produced an expansive oeuvre that remains influential today. In a brief period, he became well known for his use of mass-produced objects; placing light strings, stacks of paper, piles of candy, lettering and beaded curtains in poetic and politically charged ways. Invested in destabilizing authority and fixed meanings, he extended the responsibility of making certain decisions about the work’s realization to owners, exhibitors and the viewer, ensuring its significance would change with time and for each individual. 

The exhibition acknowledges the conditions of the current pandemic, drawing a connection to the manner in which Gonzalez-Torres formulated a way for his work to survive fluctuating and restrictive terms. Presented on the third floor of the museum, viewers will encounter some of the artist’s most well-known works, such as his self-portrait, “Untitled.” 1989, on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as “Untitled” (Public Opinion), 1991, a candy work on loan from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The presence of these works will shift over the duration of the exhibition; they can be moved, consumed, crossed and reinterpreted endlessly.

Maria Qamar, Floor 1, North End Gallery
March 10 – April 24, 2022

Maria Qamar – Qamar in her studio. Photo: Eddie O’Keefe.

Artist and author Maria Qamar plans a site-specific intervention that speaks to the Canadian South Asian diaspora. Her work includes vinyl wallpapers, paintings, and designed objects such as Samosa Beanbags with references to pop art, Bollywood and the artist’s Desi heritage, and pieces where female characters play a major role.

Maria Qamar as a first-generation Canadian from a traditional South Asian family who moved to Ontario (Scarborough and then Mississauga) at the age of nine, often offers a commentary on racism (based on her experiences as a young girl in a post 9/11 world), classism, and the patriarchy alongside reflections on the hybridization of South Asian and Canadian culture.

Spirals – Xuan Ye, Floor 1, North End Gallery, June 2022

Blurring the physical and the virtual, artist Xuan Ye will present Spirals (2022) a project rooted in research on how spatialized sounds and biometric surveillance impact human bodies. The installation will include text and animated video interventions that respond to MOCA’s architectural spaces and in particular the spiraling structure of the stairwells that connect the three floors of the Museum.

Xuan Ye is a Chinese artist, musician, and engineer currently based in Toronto. Their work has been featured, exhibited, and performed nationally and internationally. Ye’s live performances and music releases have received critical accolades from Bandcamp, Musicworks, and Exclaim!.

Debeshis Sinha, South End Stairwell, opening March 10, 2022

In 2021, MOCA launched a series of sound commissions that are experienced in the Museum’s South Stairwell and online. Works in the series thus far have been produced by Florence Yee with Joy Wong, Tea Base with Studio 2, and Morgan-Paige Melbourne. Next in the series is a commission by Debashis Sinha. Driven by a deep commitment to the primacy of sound, Sinha has developed his creative voice by weaving together his own experience as a second generation South Asian Canadian; his training with master drummers from various world music traditions; a love of electronic and electroacoustic music and technology; and a desire to transcend the traditional expectations of how these streams might intersect and interact.