Benefit of the Doubt

A couple of glitches and a misfiring motor won't dull MOCA's cutting edge

An even larger portion of the exhibition is given over to a suite of related works that make something collectively called No Ghost Just a Shell (1999). This collaborative venture, initiated and coordinated by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, features works by 14 artists and collectives, including paintings, sculptures, videos, posters, and books. They have in common their subject matter, a character from Japanese manga, or comics, that was purchased by the artists for a sum of about $400.

The overall work raises and explores a whole range of questions about identity, since the character was originally intended as a secondary one and was expected to have a limited shelf life. The artists freed her, in a sense, from her corporate creators, just as surely as they also circumscribed her existence by subjecting her to their own artistic whims. While this is all fascinating stuff, I wish it didn't consume so much physical display space that might have gone to other works from MOCA's permanent collection.

I've been frequenting MOCA on a fairly regular basis since soon after it opened in 1997. There have been permanent-collection shows that missed their mark, as well as the occasional exhibition that really falls short (Othoniel: Crystal Palace comes to mind). But when you consider that the museum has hosted major retrospectives featuring such established artists as Richard Artschwager, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Malcolm Morley, Yoko Ono, and Frank Stella, as well as shows with emerging artists like Anne Chu and Inka Essenhigh and such non-art-world figures as filmmaker David Cronenberg and choreographer Merce Cunningham, you have to concede that this is one of South Florida's most consistently overachieving arts institutions, thanks to visionary director/curator Bonnie Clearwater and her expert staff.

Handforth's Untitled (Lovelight): Can we say he looks at the street light from a different perspective?
Steven Brooke
Handforth's Untitled (Lovelight): Can we say he looks at the street light from a different perspective?


"Pivot Points 1: Defining MOCA's Collection" On display through May 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Joan Lehman Bldg., 770 N.E. 125th St., North Miami; call 305-893-6211.Ar

Such excellence makes me inclined to give MOCA the benefit of the doubt, especially since it's on the verge of a major expansion that will more than double its exhibition space. I'll overlook a MOCA misfire any day, knowing the greatness this museum is capable of.

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