Multimedia artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy exhibit work in Rowe Arts Gallery
The UNC Charlotte Department of Art & Art History and Rowe Arts Gallery presents, Priest of the Temple, an exhibition by multi-media artists, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. The installation art explores corporate culture in the West and its role in shaping society.
By incorporating landscapes, a traditional art subject, with the contemporary forms of collage and processed videos, the McCoys reimagine the world fifty to one hundred years from now.
“We are known for our kind of live camera and miniature diorama set up. This sort of interesting practice between video and sculpture,” Jennifer explains.
Kevin agrees adding, “we think landscapes are about the physical place, but also the electronic.”
The reworks come from two previous compositions based on a year the couple spent in the Emirates and a residency in San Francisco.
“We were in Abu Dhabi thinking, ‘oh, this (Money, resources and towns) is very new’ …You think they’re going to make a city be like a city in the United States and then you get back to the U.S. and realize our country is becoming more like theirs in terms of ideas on how people are managed and what they consume, “ Jennifer continues.
Priest of the Temple depicts the changing landscapes of San Francisco’s Bay Area, Silicon Valley and liberal corporate leaders of Western culture through the use of accessible materials.
“We find things from different places and put them together… have the materials sort of still be what they are, but then put them into service as other things,” Jennifer explains.
Renowned companies like Adobe, Intel and Google made their mark through the use of innovation, an intriguing concept for the McCoys.
“We’re interested in that (spirit of newness). As artists, our job is to see how that plays out in culture. When you think of something like Facebook, you think of the interface on your screen and all the friends you have connected. You don’t so much think about the physical corporate headquarters,” Jennifer says.
These companies are often associated with the abstract process of algorithms; the McCoys link the brands to locations, not just software. This approach addresses the issues surrounding companies building office space in San Francisco suburban areas.
“The analogous thing would be looking at Charlotte’s banking industry and how those places fit into the landscape,” Kevin explains.
It’s the responsibility of an artist to reflect the times. Renaissance is to religion as early American history is to George Washington and politics.
“I think we’ve all seen that government plays its role, but it’s really corporations and corporate brands that seem to be defining how we spend our time,”” Jennifer says.
Corporations highlighted in Priest of the Temple are known advocators of a free market society in an effort to expand its reach and diminish the role of government.
The McCoys elaborate on this notion in “The New Headquarters,” a sculpture featured in the exhibit. The piece envisions the skyline of a freemarket, off shore property development on Belle Isle, an island located in the Detroit River between the United States and Canada.
“The actual landscape which looks like a quilted patchwork is made of a bathmat and the water around the island is made from air conditioner insulation,” Jennifer says.
Failed examples like Facebook Co-Founder, Mark Zuckerberg donating to the Newark’s public school system, prove successful businessmen aren’t always the best educators.
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy have long offered artistic statements exploring corporate culture. Their work from the late 90s and early 2000s, using web based banner adds of corporate jargon and aesthetics provided insight to global capitalism.
“We don’t really see our work as an escape from, but more of an investigation of the world around us,” Jennifer says.
Their combined use of filmmaking, memory and language has earned the McCoys exhibitions in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, P.S.1, The Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum.
The duo’s work has been reviewed in major news and art publications, including the New York Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Artforum, and New York and Wired magazines.
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy have exhibited in Charlotte only once before, at The Light Factory in 1997.
Kevin McCoy also taught UNC Charlotte as a digital arts professor.The McCoys both received MFA degrees in electronic arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Jennifer McCoy is a professor at Brooklyn College; Kevin McCoy is a professor at New York University.
For artist information, visit www.McCoySpace.com
Priest of the Temple will be on display in Rowe Arts Gallery through Oct. 30.