David Hartt’s project Stray Light inaugurates a new series of media-based exhibitions called MCA Screen. Hartt, a Chicago-based Canadian artist, is attracted to the social, cultural, political, and economic complexities of the subjects he captures, rendering them with a cool, dispassionate eye. The subject of Stray Light is the Johnson Publishing Company building in Chicago, where Hartt records a time-capsule of the original 1971 design of its architect, John Mountoussany, a partner in the firm Dubin, Dubin, Black & Moutoussamy. The building was built as the headquarters of the 11-story Johnson Publishing Company, made famous by its Jet and Ebony magazines and its role as a leading arbiter of African-American taste and culture.
Hartt’s film and photographs are intimate portraits of the dreams and ideals of the Johnson family’s business which continue to exert a force in American culture under the leadership of the founder’s daughter Linda Johnson Rice. With the recent news that the Johnson building was sold and the company is relocating to another site, Hartt's careful portraits are lasting documents of the style and ethos of this unique work environment.