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Paul Pfeiffer in conversation with Lawrence Chua and Julie Mehretu

Lawrence Chua, Photo by Tim Gerken. Paul Pfeiffer with his architectural model of the Iglesia Ni Cristo Philippine Arena, Philippines2015. Photo: At Maculangan. © Paul Pfeiffer. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Julie Mehretu, Photo by Josefina Santos.

Paul Pfeiffer in conversation with Julie Mehretu and Lawrence Chua

Panel Discussion

On the occasion of his first U.S. retrospective Paul Pfeiffer: Prologue to the Story of the Birth of Freedom, Paul Pfeiffer will be in conversation with fellow artist Julie Mehretu and historian of art and architecture Lawrence Chua—two of Pfeiffer’s closest interlocutors who have been in dialogue with the artist throughout his career. They will speak about Pfeiffer’s practice, as well as their shared interests and intersections of collaboration and exchange. In 2004, they co-founded Denniston Hill in upstate New York, a residency for artists and creative visionaries providing them a sanctuary to reconnect with nature and offer spaces for rest, reflection, research and rejuvenation. The three speakers are featured in an interview titled ‘Diaspora and Modernity’ in a forthcoming issue of October (Fall 2023) and reprinted in the exhibition catalogue.

Introduced by Clara Kim, MOCA Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Paul Pfeiffer is an artist living and working in New York City, who has been making work in video, photography, installation, and sculpture since the late 1990s. Known for his innovative manipulation of digital media, Pfeiffer recasts the visual language of mass media spectacle to examine how images shape our awareness of ourselves and the world. Sampling footage from YouTube and other sources, he uses these to plumb the depths of contemporary culture, assessing its racial, religious, and technological dimensions. At the same time, Pfeiffer's objects and images function diachronically, establishing profound genealogies that connect contemporary culture and its many particularities to the long, seemingly remote histories of art, media, religion, and human consciousness. Pfeiffer has had many one-person exhibitions at Whitney Museum of American Art (2001); the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2003 and 2017-18); the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2005); MUSAC León, Spain (2008); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2009); Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila (2015); Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil (2018); and The Athenaeum, Athens, GA (2023). He has presented work in major international exhibitions, most recently the Performa Biennial and the Honolulu Biennial in 2019 and the Toronto Biennial and Seoul Mediacity Biennale in 2022. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; M+, Hong Kong; The Guggenheim; Tate Modern; and the Pinault Collection, among many others. The first large-scale retrospective of his work in the U.S. opens at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in November 2023.

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1970, Julie Mehretu is a world renowned painter who lives and works in New York City. In exploring palimpsests of history, from geological time to a modern day phenomenology of the social, Julie Mehretu's paintings, prints and drawings engage us in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior and the psychogeography of space. She received a Master's of Fine Art with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu is a recipient of many awards, including the The MacArthur Award (2005), the Berlin Prize: Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at The American Academy in Berlin, Germany (2007) and in 2015 she was awarded the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award. Mehretu is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and The National Academy of Design. Her global representative is Marian Goodman Gallery.

Lawrence Chua, PhD is a historian of art and architecture with a focus on the transregional histories of modernism in Asia. He is the author of Bangkok Utopia: modern architecture and Buddhist felicities, 1910-1973 and Gold by the inch: a novel. He is currently an associate professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University and holds research fellowships at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University, the Center for Khmer Studies, and the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg. He is a founding board member, with Paul Pfeiffer and Julie Mehretu, of Denniston Hill, a not-for-profit artist-of-color led arts center in upstate New York.

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