Peek Inside MCA's Biennial of the Americas Exhibit

Now? Now! explores the concerns, beauty, and truths of the current moment through the work of more than 30 artists from around the Americas. View it through August 30.

July 16 2015, 8:52 AM

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Puerto Rican artist Radamés "Juni" Figueroa adds some much-needed brightness to the second floor with his "tropical readymades"—repurposed objects (in this case, soccer balls and basketballs) and plants that combine in a playful reminder of his lush homeland.  

Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson surrendered to the elements in her study of the Arctic, which she believes "represents the full spectrum of political and ecological problems" the world faces today. She scratches, draws, and paints on her prints as commentary on global problems such as climate change and exploitation of natural resources

Denver-based artists Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran tackle one of their most ambitious projects yet (which is saying something, trust us) with "Unclaimed." The interactive piece invites visitors to blow air along the 3D-printed cityscape and then see the impact firsthand through the change in color on the 34,000-bulb LED grid below, on two video screens at either end, and through the reaction of fans above. "We're exploring the unclaimed chunk of air above buildings but below FAA controls," Mehran says. (Read more about Mehran in "Outside The Lines.")

Los Angeles-based artist Karl Haendel's pencil and enamel works can be spotted throughout the museum in spots where visitors might take a break and look at their phones. By drawing in the style of stock photography, Haendel is commenting on the lack of minorities in those images (and, perhaps, how technology draws our attention away, quite literally, from the beauty around us). 

Eduardo Terrazas' Cosmos series represents the Mexico City-based artist's philosophy of the universe: Circles represent "first nature," or matter that exists and evolves independently of humans, while lines represent "second nature," human-caused growth and destruction. In conjunction with Huichol people in northern Mexico, Terrazas attaches yarn to boards with wax using an ancient technique to create these colorful, complex studies of our impact on the world. 

One of the most intriguing undertakings in the exhibit is Jorge Macchi's study of a single second. How, the Argentinian artist asked himself, can you represent a second in three dimensions? The polymer concrete work, which illustrates the first second of a minute on a clock (the number "2" is part of the "12" at the top of the face), is his answer. 

Don't forget to look down. Underfoot you'll find Mariana Castillo Deball's Vista de Ojos, a reproduction of the first map drawn of Mexico City following the Spanish conquest in 1521. 

Puerto Rican artist Radamés "Juni" Figueroa adds some much-needed brightness to the second floor with his "tropical readymades"—repurposed objects (in this case, soccer balls and basketballs) and plants that combine in a playful reminder of his lush homeland.  

Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson surrendered to the elements in her study of the Arctic, which she believes "represents the full spectrum of political and ecological problems" the world faces today. She scratches, draws, and paints on her prints as commentary on global problems such as climate change and exploitation of natural resources

Denver-based artists Chris Coleman and Laleh Mehran tackle one of their most ambitious projects yet (which is saying something, trust us) with "Unclaimed." The interactive piece invites visitors to blow air along the 3D-printed cityscape and then see the impact firsthand through the change in color on the 34,000-bulb LED grid below, on two video screens at either end, and through the reaction of fans above. "We're exploring the unclaimed chunk of air above buildings but below FAA controls," Mehran says. (Read more about Mehran in "Outside The Lines.")

Los Angeles-based artist Karl Haendel's pencil and enamel works can be spotted throughout the museum in spots where visitors might take a break and look at their phones. By drawing in the style of stock photography, Haendel is commenting on the lack of minorities in those images (and, perhaps, how technology draws our attention away, quite literally, from the beauty around us). 

Eduardo Terrazas' Cosmos series represents the Mexico City-based artist's philosophy of the universe: Circles represent "first nature," or matter that exists and evolves independently of humans, while lines represent "second nature," human-caused growth and destruction. In conjunction with Huichol people in northern Mexico, Terrazas attaches yarn to boards with wax using an ancient technique to create these colorful, complex studies of our impact on the world. 

One of the most intriguing undertakings in the exhibit is Jorge Macchi's study of a single second. How, the Argentinian artist asked himself, can you represent a second in three dimensions? The polymer concrete work, which illustrates the first second of a minute on a clock (the number "2" is part of the "12" at the top of the face), is his answer. 

Don't forget to look down. Underfoot you'll find Mariana Castillo Deball's Vista de Ojos, a reproduction of the first map drawn of Mexico City following the Spanish conquest in 1521. 

If you read or watch the news every day, the world may seem like it's experiencing major upheaval everywhere you look. Police killings, political reforms, sociocultural shifts—they're all part of today's narrative. In Now? Now! (on view through August 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver), more than 30 artists from all over the Americas explore and question these pressing issues as well as celebrate the beauty of living in the moment. It's the central exhibit of the citywide Biennial of the Americas, a cross-cultural festival of ideas, arts, and culture.

At the MCA, the showcase takes over the entire building, extending from the walls to the ceiling to your feet as artists use photography, video, paintings, animation, sculpture, and more to investigate the Biennial's theme of "now." Some of the creations respond to media coverage, while others appropriate common cultural artifacts into new messages. All are founded in a sense of place that shifts with each artist, whether it's New York City or Brazil. The intriguing mix of mediums, styles, and artist backgrounds come together to form a cohesive exhibit that surprises around every corner. As Adam Lerner, MCA director and chief animator, stated at the Biennial kickoff press conference: "The purpose of art is to help us see the world with fresh eyes, and you can't do that if everyone is speaking the same language." 

Get a peek at the exhibit with the slideshow above. 

(More: Your guide to Biennial of the Americas)

Follow senior associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger