Curator Andrea Karnes’ FOCUS series here at the Modern is well underway with FOCUS: Joshua Mosley currently on view until February 24th and certainly worth a visit.
Situated in the Modern’s three FOCUS galleries, Mosley’s exhibition consists of charcoal drawings, watercolors, and a 24-inch bronze statue of George Washington Carver—all included in, or directly related to, the exhibit’s animated film, A Vue, 2004. Mosley’s film poignantly presents the dilemmas of certain life choices--are the main characters, Henry and Susan, better off choosing their careers over a relationship with each other? Ultimately the decision is left to Susan, who accepts a job transfer and leaves behind both Diamond, Missouri and Henry, the park ranger who daily maintains the town’s 150-feet tall monument to Carver. Henry’s life parallels that of Carver’s, who also forwent a committed relationship for his professional endeavors.
The piece has an inherent sentiment of loneliness as Susan and Henry seem just as forlorn together as apart, illustrated by their awkward and forced conversations that are almost always work-related. Aside from the visual complexity of the film, (which took Mosley almost three years to create and is comprised of watercolor background stills, animated wax figures with handmade clothing, and a bronze figure Mosley made in Carver’s likeness that is superimposed in the film and appears 150-feet tall), it is the piece’s desolation that I am so intrigued with. Henry is sadly, in a way, the new Everyman--a modern, alienated North American living in lackluster suburbia, failing to make lasting personal connections, and only highly devoted to his work (even monitoring the cleanliness of the Carver monument with binoculars while at home); he lives in a generic tract home not unlike his neighbors, and does his shopping at the banal UltraMart. The film’s score, composed by Abby Schneider, is mood-inducing and hauntingly reverberates throughout the galleries. The charcoal drawings in the exhibit present the depressing landscapes of middle-American Diamond, Missouri and are figureless and evocative of a dusty ghost town.
Here at the Modern, alone in the middle FOCUS gallery, is the bronze George Washington Carver, 150 ft., only 24-inches tall and standing on a pedestal. The sculpture is mounted just slightly above eye-level, but in size alone is surprisingly diminished when compared to its monumental role in the film.
The sculptural component in A Vue is also seen in Mosley’s dread, 2007, a short film derived from the texts of Blaise Pascal and Jean-Jacques Rousseau that explore the individual in society and nature. dread includes five bronze sculptures that were also installed adjacent to the film at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Mosley’s animated film Commute, 2003, utilizes stop-motion animated wax figures, but instead of the watercolor background seen in A Vue, Commute includes charcoal drawings as the film’s backdrop that lend a dramatic theatricality to the piece.
The philosophical nuances in Mosley’s A Vue, paired with his prowess in sculpture, stop-motion animation, and watercolor, offer many layers to his work. Stop by and spend some time with FOCUS: Joshua Mosley while you can.