MoMA, New York

February 1 – March 8, 2020

Force Life

Shahryar Nashat

(in conjunction with Adam Linder Shelf Life)

For the inaugural commission in The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, artist Shahryar Nashat presents the installation Force Life. The other commission is Shelf Life by choreographer Adam Linder. The exhibitions alternate hourly throughout the day, so that only one is on view at a given time.

Shahryar Nashat is interested in how technological innovations can serve as prostheses that extend the abilities and functions of the human form. Pondering the question “when is the body most alive,” he is equally invested in how technology can alienate humans from themselves and from one another. His work lives in the uneasy balance between these competing aspects of technology, a force that both enhances and fragments human life.

Nashat’s exhibition Force Life consists of three sculptures and a video set within an immersive light environment designed by the artist. Each of these works corresponds to an idea in a tripartite system: a video titled Blood (what is authority); a horizontal sculpture titled Barre (when will you get rid of my body); and two marble sculptures titled Brain (you no longer have to simulate) and Brain (are you nervous in this system). Each element is a stand-in for ways in which art is experienced: a physical experience, felt with the body; a visual experience, seen by the eyes; and an intellectual experience, perceived by the mind. Deploying elements of the central nervous system across three distinct artworks, Nashat mimics the fragmentation of consciousness experienced through contemporary technologies. A prone body is the centerpiece of the video, a form subjected to relentless mechanical scanning by the camera, which zooms in and out, panning over the body as if carrying out an inventory of its component parts. Animals captured on CCTV also create a silent, menacing presence; as they interact with the camera, the lens becomes both mirror and counterpart.

Accompanying these works is an immersive lighting environment that changes throughout the course of the exhibition and in relation to the natural shift in light filtered through the windows in the Kravis Studio. The light surrounds and unifies the artworks, connecting the dispersed objects of Nashat’s system into a single body.

By presenting two distinct exhibitions that occupy the same space, Linder and Nashat raise questions about where art happens and how it is communicated.

Text: MoMA

Shahryar Nashat, Blood (what is authority), high definition video, 14:15 min., 2020. Installation view, Force Life, MoMA, New York, 2020

Shahryar Nashat, Blood (what is authority), high definition video, 14:15 min., 2020. Installation view, Force Life, MoMA, New York, 2020

Shahryar Nashat, Brain (are you nervous in this system), marble, 57.5 x 64.7 x 140 cm, 2020. Installation view, Force Life, MoMA, New York, 2020

Shahryar Nashat, Brain (are you nervous in this system), marble, 57.5 x 64.7 x 140 cm, 2020. Installation view, Force Life, MoMA, New York, 2020

Shahryar Nashat, Installation view, Force Life, MoMA, New York, 2020

Shahryar Nashat, Installation view, Force Life, MoMA, New York, 2020