Vision in a Cornfield is a large-scale collaboration that unites distinct creative communities in Detroit. The inspiration for the exhibition is two-fold. It is based on an unexpected encounter shared by artists Mike Kelley and Cary Loren, members of the psyche/art rock band Destroy All Monsters, which took place in a cornfield in Wixom, Michigan. It is also a reunion and reimagining of an unsanctioned art project in the streets of Detroit by the members of the 30-year-old arts collective Ogun, named after the Yoruba orisha of iron, hunting, politics and war. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the ceremonial transformation of abandoned autos into African fetishes known as “Urban Monumentz,” produced together by M. Saffell Gardner, Lester Lashley, Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts, Dyenetta Dye (of Ogun), Cary Loren, Mike Kelley (of Destroy All Monsters), Chip Flynn, Leith Campbell, Brad Ballard (of the electromechanical art collective Apetechnology) with additional work by Olyami Dabls, Jennifer Price and Levon Millross.
A selection of mixed media works by Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts lays the groundwork for the exhibition. Known as an activist, artist and poet, Pitts founded Ogun, as well as the local press Black Graphic International, Kcalb Gniw Spirit and Band Unit #10. He was a member of the Detroit radical labor group League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Taken as a whole, Vision in a Cornfield reflects Pitts’ paradigm. It is a philosophical and spiritual inquiry into urban identity and the communal sense of self.
In conjunction with the exhibition, MOCAD presents the premiere issue of BOX #1, an homage to a short-lived quarterly by the same name produced in the late 1970s. BOX is published in a limited edition of 150, each of which hold at least 30 works by local and national artists, musicians and writers whose work has a relationship to the themes present in the exhibition. BOX includes, among other items, a second edition of Faruq Z. Bey’s seminal text of music theory and existentialism, entitled Toward a ‘Ratio’nal Aesthetic.
Vision in a Cornfield is curated by M. Saffell Gardner, Carey Loren and Rebecca Mazzei. The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit with coordination by Zeb Smith and Jonathan Rajewski.