As Americans strained, disbelieving eyes beg for mercy with fatigued fingers from a non-stop feed of bloody videos, articles and news, the US cannot disregard the relentless confrontation of fatal racial inequality, police brutality, identity and America’s dark history. These bleeding open wounds and battle cries have created a torrential downpour of displaced questions and emotions- will it ever stop? Both #Blacklivesmatter and #Bluelivesmatter movements ask for action and answers to this question, while the public continues to search for a moment of reflection and togetherness; where we are heading as a society? On September 9, 2016, the Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art will provide a refreshing and unique way to digest, process and converse about these sensitive concepts courtesy of artist Sanford Biggers’ upcoming Subjective Cosmology experience.

Curator and Museum Executive Director Elysia Reeder-Borowy explains, “This iteration of the exhibition perfectly embodies the creative spirit of Detroit – both the artist and institution working together to engage the local community in the larger creative dialogue. We want to help reveal voices, both new and old, in a way that celebrates the city’s rich history and bold cultural pursuits. The past is always present.”

“Only through more thoughtful dialogue about history and race can we evolve as individuals and society.” -Sanford Biggers

Borowy continues, “We are absolutely thrilled to be opening the season at MOCAD with stand-out Sanford Biggers. In plotting our upcoming shows, we wanted to jumpstart the fall run with an exhibition that addressed social justice issues and work with artist who had an expansive practice. With his cross-disciplinary approach, we thought no one better to have on board than Sanford.

“In a community that has struggled with decline – social, economic, and political – many of the issues in Sanford’s work are particularly relevant to Detroit’s citizens. In bringing light to such issues, his work helps address problems that cross-pollinate cultures — that are present both on local and national levels. Sanford’s place at MOCAD is further evidence of the city’s perseverance as well as its cultural upturn and openness. The entire exhibition is born out of a desire to experiment and collaborate.”


A native of Los Angeles, Sanford Biggers has done a majority of his work in New York City. Known both nationally and internationally, Biggers’ work has astounded crowds in renowned museums like the Tate Modern (London), The Renaissance Society (Chicago), Yerba Bue a Center for the Arts (San Francisco) and Tate Britain among countless others. A multi-disciplinary and innovative artist, Sanford Biggers exercises his artistic aptitude in a variety of ways. Biggers creates via film, installation, sculpture, music and performance. He also works as an Assistant Professor in the Columbia University Visual Arts program, spreading his expertise to the next generation of creators. He has participated in a number of art residencies, spanning the nation and the globe and for his undying dedication to art Sanford Biggers has won numerous awards.

Subjective Cosmology is an exhibition that will navigate social issues through paintings, sculptures, music, film, performance and mixed media. Biggers will exercise his variable talents to bring social concepts to life in an original and captivating way. A standout installation in the show features a 30- foot inflatable Fat Albert lying face down on the ground. Intertwining the unlikely duo of Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert character with ancient Greco-Roman mythology, this installation titled Laocoon pays homage to the Trojan Priest of the same name, and the well-known story of the Trojan Horse. In Ancient Greek mythology, Laocoon was killed by his sons after attempting to advise the Trojans to “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.” The piece takes an ancient narrative of mistrust and applies it to the situations we see played out in the media today between minorities and organizations created to protect them. A unique expression, Laocoon provokes curiosity and conversation with this piece and that the point of Subjective Cosmology.

Shatter, 2015, Production Still, Courtesy the artist

Shatter, 2015, Production Still, Courtesy the artist

The installation will provide the backdrop for an exclusive new Moon Medicin performance. Moon Medicin is a multimedia concept band performing original compositions interspersed with re-imagined covers. The collective performs against a backdrop of curated sound effects and images of sci-fi, punk, sacred geometry, coded symbology, film noir, minstrels, world politics, and ceremonial dance. For this iteration of Moon Medicin, Biggers, the creative director, will collaborate with a rotating cast of musicians, designers, and performance artists based in Detroit.

“Exploration of the provocative is not new to Biggers – in fact, it is the basis of his pursuits in the aesthetic arena. His work serves as a platform to discuss a kaleidoscopic array of topics: hip-hop, Buddhism, politics, identity, and American and art history. In recent years though, his crafted has refocused to more seriously contemplate the pitfall of our sociocultural environment and racial identity,” notes MOCAD.

Artist TalkSaturday, September 10 at 1-2pm with Sanford Biggers.
This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and is curated by MOCAD’s Executive Director Elysia Borowy-Reeder. Born out of experimentation and a desire to create a new platform for engagement, this project and exhibition is supported by the Joyce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Massimo De Carlo and Monique Meloche.

Words by Hailey Dukes. New kid on the block + sponge for all things Detroit. Student to this earth and the people, places, and things on it. Walking an unceasing journey to observe, feel, analyze, understand. Inspire me! Follow Hailey on IG @wolf___hailey // Twitter @heyygirllhai.