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Kaari Upson: Selected Shorts

Kaari Upson, Others, 2019 (still). Video, color, sound, 2:23 min. © The Art Trust created under The Kaari Upson Trust. Courtesy Sprüth Magers.

Kaari Upson: Selected Shorts


MOCA and LAND are pleased to present a screening of selected short videos by the late artist Kaari Upson (1970–2021), that demonstrate her uncanny investigations of the overlaps, fissures, and disjunctions between our interior worlds and exterior reality. Upson worked in a wide array of media including sculpture, video, drawing and painting. For nearly two decades, she constructed a singular artistic universe that melded autobiographical and collective traumas, fears and fantasies and often illuminated what might be called “Americanness” or the “American psyche.” The Los Angeles-based artist’s artful conjuring of abject imagery targeted viewers’ psychological comfort zone confronting them with visceral and affecting evocations of loss and instability. In her videos, Upson would play various roles, mostly a persona based on herself, or her mother, or her childhood best friend Kris. These selected shorts demonstrate Upson’s enigmatic narrative style and her frequent use of repetition and mirroring. 

Kaari Upson (1970–2021) was born in San Bernardino, California, and based in Los Angeles and New York. Solo shows include Deste Foundation, Athens (2022), Kunsthalle Basel (2019), Kunstverein Hannover (2019), New Museum, New York (2017) and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2007). Recent and forthcoming group exhibitions include Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2022), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2022), Cleveland Museum of Art (2021), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2021), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2020), 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2019), Aspen Art Museum (2019), Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany (2018), 15th Istanbul Biennial (2017), 2017 Whitney Biennial, Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon (2015-16), The High Line, New York (2015), Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2015), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2014), CAPC Musée d’art contemporain, Bordeaux, France (2014) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2013). Her work is also currently included in The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2022), curated by Cecilia Alemani.

LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is a nonprofit arts organization committed to presenting site-responsive projects in the public sphere throughout Los Angeles and beyond.

Special thanks to Sprüth Magers. This screening is presented in conjunction with the exhibition never, never ever, never in my life, never in all my born days, never in all my life, never on view through October 15 at Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles.