Curated by Mass MoCA Senior Curator and Managing Director of Exhibitions,
"Suffering From Realness" explores the politics of representation — and the ways in which artists use the body to grasp at and re-center the “aura of realness” in an age of uncertainty. The title for the exhibition is borrowed from the song “Ni**as in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West in which West raps: “Doctors say I’m the illest / ‘Cause I’m suffering from realness.” This prophetic lyric ended up signaling the musician’s spiraling ego, over-the-top public behavior, and mental health issues. But the phrase also begs the question, “What exactly is realness?” In her most political group exhibition to date, curator Denise Markonish explores the fluidity of identity and the media rituals performed to tell the narrative of “realness.”
The artists whose work comprise "Suffering From Realness" examine the human condition from all sides, creating works in various media that are both personal and universal, addressing racism, violence, gender equality, the politicized body of wartime, the anxious body, the complexity of responsibility, and the future. Ultimately, the exhibition endeavors to provide a sliver of optimism, to show how tenderness and collective action can lead to a new form of realness, one tied less to uncertainty and more to liberation. No longer bound, we can “resist or move on, be mad, be rash, smoke, and explode” (Morrissey, Hold On to Your Friends), and ultimately, find hope in something lasting and real.
Featuring: Aziz+Cucher, Cassils, Adriana Corral, Joey Fauerso, Jeffrey Gibson, Hayv Kahraman, Jennifer Karady, Titus Kaphar, Robert Longo, Christopher Mir, MPA, Wangechi Mutu, Allison Schulnik, Keith Sklar, Robert Taplin, and Vincent Valdez