Moki Cherry: A Journey Eternal

Moki Cherry: A Journey Eternal

Moderna Museet Malmö

September 19, 2023
Moki Cherry
A Journey Eternal
September 23, 2023–March 3, 2024
Opening night: September 22, 6–11pm, with concerts and DJs
Moderna Museet Malmö
Ola Billgrens plats 2-4
SE-211 29 Malmö
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm,
Thursday 11am–7pm
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Moderna Museet Malmö opens Moki Cherry: A Journey Eternal. The exhibition is the largest presentation to date of the artist’s works. Moki Cherry’s brilliantly-colored art unites painting, sculpture, textiles, and scenography. Everyday life and art are linked together; a musical instrument case forms the base for a painting, bags for packing are reworked into textile collages, and a philosophy with nature at the centre is formulated in drawings. Moki Cherry herself commented on this transgressive approach with the description “the stage is a home, and the home is a stage.”

Her art could be included as an element of concerts in Paris, Copenhagen, or the Swedish countryside. By presenting her art outside of art galleries, in places such as concert stages, her home, and schools, Moki Cherry dissolved hierarchies between public and private and between creator and viewer. Children, her own and others’, were both audience and collaborators.

Moki Cherry’s multifaceted art continues to fascinate and relate to the present—her engagement in the spiritual, the environmental, how she encouraged collaborative making and incorporated the domestic sphere. She shifted from the motto to “make a more beautiful world” as a young adult to “life is my artwork”. Her work was influenced by art and cultural histories as well as spiritual movements from both Western and Eastern traditions. Her extensive travels and international collaborations also inspired her work. The result is a multi-layered idiom inhabited by human and non-human creatures. Later works exhibit traces of Cubism and more abstract forms.

Monika Marianne Karlsson (1943–2009), better known by the name Moki Cherry, grew up in Scania, in the South of Sweden and moved to Stockholm in 1962 to study fashion. In 1970, she relocated to the countryside with her family and transformed a former school into the family’s home, which also served as a gathering place centred around music, theatre, children’s activities, and art. With her husband, the American avant-garde jazz trumpet player and composer Don Cherry, she established “Movement Incorporated” 1967 which later became “Organic Music Theatre”—sometimes referred to only as “Organic Music” (1971-1976). In a letter she enthusiastically describes their shared vision as the biggest thing to happen to the art scene since the Russian Ballet (1909-1929). The comparison underscores their goal of a Gesamtkunstwerk and a fusion of artistic genres, in Sweden also associated with Svenska Baletten (The Swedish Ballet). From the late 1970s, she split her time between Scania and New York.

Moki Cherry has a long history with Moderna Museet. In 1971, she and Don Cherry participated in the exhibition Utopias and Visions 1871–1981 in Stockholm, where they created a total installation—a dynamic, living environment where music, art, and everyday life went on simultaneously. Moderna Museet Malmö’s exhibition title, A Journey Eternal, is taken from the publication that was produced in 1971. These are the last words in a meandering text by Moki Cherry in which she puts words to her holistic worldview. The participation later led to a new project, Atelier des Enfants in 1974 linked to the opening of Centre Pompidou.

Moderna Museet in Stockholm presented an exhibition with Moki Cherry in 2016. Since then, interest in her art has only increased, with several solo presentations in the USA and the most recent at ICA, London; in 2021, a comprehensive publication by Blank Forms, New York features both Moki and Don Cherry with a particular focus on the boundary-crossing work that occurred under the name Organic Music. The exhibition at Moderna Museet Malmö coincides with the 50-year anniversary of Don Cherry’s album Organic Music Society, one of many for which Moki Cherry designed the album cover.

A Journey Eternal is the most comprehensive presentation of Moki Cherry’s work to date and gives a broad picture of her oeuvre—from painting, textile applications, to ceramics and collage. It manifests her vision of life as an artwork, an interdisciplinary mode of working including the composition of the body and home to activities intended for children. As an observation of the last element, the exhibition also incorporates a creative workshop.

Curators: Elisabeth Millqvist and Andreas Nilsson

Moderna Museet Malmö, part of the state-owned Moderna Museet, is funded by the City of Malmö, Skåne Regional Council and the Swedish Government.

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Moderna Museet Malmö
September 19, 2023

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