Zoe Strauss, Sage Jumping, 2009
With contributions by:
Admir Jahic (CH, 1975), East Eric (FR, 1974), Isaac Cordal (ES, 1974), Mark Jenkins (USA, 1974), Nomad (DE, 1971), Stefan Gross (DE, 1965), Tobias Allanson (SE, 1974), Zoe Strauss (USA, 1970)
Gastcurator: Harlan Levey
Curated by: Harlan Levey
Highbrow, Lowbrow, Nobrow - MOUSSE! is an exhibition of contemporary Mousse Art produced by MAMA in collaboration with Harlan Levey, Editor in Chief of Modart Europe.
Moussism refers to process as much as movement. It discusses taste, legacy and the line between art and activism to explore creativity and social wellbeing.
Modart was launched in 1999 to document the attitudes and showcase the actions, of emerging artists and their relationship to a language of rebellion. As the last century came to a close, in every cultural sector, civil disobedience was on the rise. Often vandalistic applications of creativity and innovation were evident in the use of technology (hi and lo fi) that saw simultaneous rises in open source platforms, file sharing programs like napster, mobilization of protest groups in the battle for Seattle or the grassroots way in which a new generation of street artists challenged the aesthetics of public space and re-appropriating social architecture.
Modart was not interested in 'art' in any professional sense, but rather in art as something that was lived. As a magazine Modart consistently communicated a plea for increased artistic amateurism and participation. Maturing during the same years and with a consistent overlap of artists who would become staples in an international 'street art scene', Modart and Showroom Mama are very natural partners. It was not surprising, that the first critical mention of Mousse Art came in response to the Showroom MAMA exhibition, 'The Adventures of the Great Abnerio,' when Time Out Amsterdam quoted Abner Preis to declare that Mousse Art might look like shit, but tastes sweet. Like any sort of shit, Moussism is a movement that speaks of an entire process and eventually of health.
Having watched the professional development of hundreds of emerging artists and receiving a distressing amount of authoritative titles on Street Art and Graffiti to review, the second Modart Book (Highbrow, Lowbrow, Nobrow - Mousse), made a tongue in cheek statement about its own history and the eventual inclusion of any narrative into history. It begins with a brief essay that deals with the production of mythology and value in art, while showcasing ten artists who have established themselves in the contemporary art world as dissidents to formal and abstract criteria. Artists were not selected for excellence in any specific area, but in part for a willingness to explore all the tools available to them in order to master their own intuitive and often flawed personal language.
Modart Book 02 illustrates Moussism as a long running, formless movement in the production of art, acknowledging that the only real way to identify Mousse Art is personal. You experience the mousse. You know it's mousse. If you find yourself saying 'man that's THE mousse,' then it's Mousse Art and nobody can tell you otherwise. A basic introduction to Mousse Art is given and sites some of Mousse Art's qualities to determine a basis of analysis that cannot be betrayed by taste or opinion. While not a critical discourse, Mousse becomes a universal movement as it is details how artists like Caravaggio, Marcel Duchamp or Jean Michel Basquiat belonged to it and how movements like Dada or Arte Povera were informed by its lack of fear and love of failure.
As part of MAMA's exhibition Highbrow, Lowbrow, Nobrow - MOUSSE!, MAMA presents two talks with Zoe Strauss and guest curator Harlan Levey on 7 and 9 April. On 7 April we will be at MU in Eindhoven and on 9 April you can find us at Concordia 21rozendaal, Enschede. Be sure to check our website for other locations and details.