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Incense, Sweaters and Ice - Martine Syms Art Comes to MoMA

  • A Film still From Incense Sweaters and Ice by Martine Syms
May 21, 2017
Smirna Kulenović is an Art History and Philosophy graduate, developing video and sound art projects, in love with improvisational theater and performance. Runs away into deserts, forests and waterfalls.

For the first time in a US solo museum exhibition, Martine Syms art will be presented at MoMA in Projects 106: Martine Syms, featuring her latest unseen feature-length film Incense, Sweaters, and Ice, as a part of an immersive installation. The film reflects on the legacies of the Great Migration, by traveling through the US, from Mississippi to Los Angeles by way of St. Louis. Following three protagonists – a Girl, her great-aunt Mrs. Queen Esther Bernetta White, and her new acquaintance WB (“whiteboy”), and their movement through different phases of watching, being watched and remaining unseen.

Martine Syms - Incense, Sweaters and Ice, film still, 2017
Martine Syms – Incense, Sweaters and Ice, film still 1, 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue New

Reflecting on Identity and Image Production

In conjunction with the exhibition, an artist-designed augmented reality is planned in order to allow the viewers to unlock additional content from the film’s narrative through posters, still and moving images, and both public and private screens. Martine Syms aims to show the intertwined relationship between the identity formation and image production in contemporary society, by using both found and created material and create an important dynamics and interchange between the audience and the artist. The installation is focused on the public’s constant interaction with and appropriation of mass culture for personal social media, in which the experience of images themselves goes through the lens of mass culture. She uses the shared cultural heritage of television shows, advertisements, police cameras, Vines, and original photography in order to discuss and reflect on the familial, cultural, and historical legacy.

Martine Syms brings her film Incense Sweaters and Ice to MOMA
Martine Syms – Incense, Sweaters and Ice, film still 2, 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue New

The Conceptual Arrangement of the Exhibition

The exhibition is designed to resemble an image production set, placed on the third floor of the Museum. The film Incense, Sweaters, and Ice is set in the center of the space and will appear on three large screens arranged in a triangular configuration. The image migrates from one screen to another, allowing the new scenes to unfold, so that the viewers keep moving within the space and following the hints created by the artist. One can sense the presence of the reference to chroma-key environments used by the visual effects studios to produce motion pictures, video games, and news broadcasts. The setting allows the viewers to become a part of an immersive and moving visual experience which triggers important socially-engaged topics.

Incense Sweaters and Ice film still by Martine Syms coming to MOMA
Martine Syms – Incense, Sweaters and Ice, film still 3, 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue New

Martine Syms Art in a Solo Exhibition at MOMA!

Since 1971, The Elaine Dannheisser Projects Series at The Museum of Modern Art has been active as a crucial experimental platform for the most urgent international voices in contemporary art, making Projects 106: Martine Syms an important part of it. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated brochure in this fully immersive exhibition that debuts a feature film, original photography, and an artist-designed Augmented Reality App. It will be on view from May 27th until July 16th, 2017 at MOMA in New York! In conjunction with Projects 106, Martine Syms will participate in a Modern Monday evening on July 10, 2017.

Featured image: Martine Syms – Incense, Sweaters and Ice, film still, 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue New.