Damián Ortega – Moby Dick

KAF X MOCA: Transpacific Stream

The all-digital collaboration pairs four video works by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) collection artists with four works on loan to KAF. Videos and films by Judy Fiskin, Erin Cosgrove, Mark Leckey, and Damián Ortega will be paired with those by Chinese artists Liu Chuang, Guan Xiao, Li Ming, and Cheng Ran. Showing now through 10 June 2021, each pairing will showcase the similarities and differences in both the physical and cultural landscape of each institution’s location, as well as the unique experience of viewing these works during a global pandemic.

This collaboration is also available on MOCA’s SCREEN platform.

Pair 4: Damián Ortega – Cheng Ran
Man versus Machine

Now more than ever, we are struggling to understand the ways that technology, and the world we build within them, mediate our experience with our world. The relationship can be fraught, as we struggle to decide how a world transcribed through machines can be both a blessing and a curse. In Damián Ortega’s Moby Dick, 2004, a team of men struggle to contain a Volkswagen Beetle that writhes and pulls as its wheels slip on the greased asphalt. Set to a raucous soundtrack the iconic automobile, one that holds a nostalgic relationship to Mexican culture, seems transformed into a living creature. In Cheng Ran’s Always I Distrust, 2020, the artist approaches a quixotic relationship with technology from a totally different angle, one that embraces the miscommunications and mistranslations that come with our digital interactions. The simulated conversation between the artist and a spammer’s hacked email list leads us to think that, although the relationship might be predicated on falsities, there are still emotional connections to be made.


KAF x MOCA: Transpacific Stream is organised by Bryan Barcena, Assistant Curator of Programs and Manager of Publications, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.