Shana Moulton

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)

Shana Moulton, MindPlace ThoughtStream (still), 2014. Video. Courtesy the artist and Gimpel Fils, London; Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich; and Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris.

April 14, 2015

Shana Moulton
Picture Puzzle Pattern Door

April 16–August 2, 2015

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Upstairs Galleries
701 Mission Street
San Francisco CA 94103
Twitter / Facebook

Kitsch, mysticism, pop culture and spirituality collide in the work of New York-based artist Shana Moulton. Her practice investigates the relationship between American consumer culture and the New Age movement, highlighting consumerism’s influence on wellness and spiritual fulfillment. In videos, performances and installations, the artist always plays Cynthia, a mute character inhabiting highly artificial environments, who seeks spiritual enlightenment, physical comfort, and healing through her ritualistic interaction with various mass-produced items. In search of a transcendence that ultimately eludes her, Cynthia navigates a psychedelic fantasy world tinged by longing.

For her exhibition Picture Puzzle Pattern Door at YBCA, Moulton presents a multimedia installation featuring Cynthia as she experiments with a biofeedback machine to alleviate pain. The principle of biofeedback rests on the assumption that one can train the mind to control the body’s functions by monitoring and responding to internal, physical responses. The central video MindPlace Thoughtstream (2014) begins with Cynthia plugging into the MindPlace Thoughtstream Biofeedback System, a real product, to measure her body’s functions through sound and light. This is an entrée into Cynthia’s journey, punctuated by magical gloves that make objects wiggle, whispering autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) soundtracks to tingle the listener’s senses, and a dance routine to an Activia-brand yogurt commercial.

Objects from the video appear as sculptures and looped clips within the installation, allowing the viewer to fully inhabit Cynthia’s enchanted universe. Outside of the gallery, Moulton designed a faux doctor’s office waiting room accompanied by a series of new collages and sculptures. By following Cynthia’s unending struggle to treat both mind and body through cure-all gadgets and self-help guides, the exhibition provokes a deep reflection on the anxiety and superficiality prevalent in contemporary life.

Public program: 
ConVerge: Shana Moulton: Picture Puzzle Pattern Door Opening
Thursday April 16, 2015, 4-8pm, Grand Lobby
YBCA’s free monthly public gathering ConVerge presents an evening of performance and music with Shana Moulton and friends. New York-based mobile television studio E.S.P. TV shoots a live taping in the Grand Lobby, featuring a performance piece by Shana Moulton and Nick Hallett, as well as an ambient music set by sound healer Karma Moffett. Performances are interspersed with a video program including Sabrina Ratté, Jeremy Couillard, Jeremy Rotsztain, and Peter Burr. This episode will air on the independent community television station Manhattan Neighborhood Network, as well as online. 

About the Control: Technology in Culture series at YBCA
Control: Technology in Culture is an ongoing series of exhibitions showcasing work by emerging and mid-career artists who examine the social, cultural, and experiential implications of technology. The exhibitions in this series seek to prompt timely questions about the profound and far-reaching influence of technology in our daily lives by focusing on artists whose work spans a multitude of disciplines and relates to a diverse set of issues, including architecture, acoustics, psychology, labor, consumerism, the environment, and the military.

The term “control” refers to philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s theory that, as a result of the ever-increasing role of information technology, Michel Foucault’s “disciplinary society” of the 20th century has given way to a “control society” in the 21st century. In contrast to discipline, which molds the individual through confinement in factories, prisons, and schools, control is diffuse, adaptable, and ubiquitous, modulating rather than molding the individual.

Control: Technology in Culture is curated by Ceci Moss, Assistant Curator of Visual Arts.

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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)
April 14, 2015

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