December 6, 2016 - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991–2015
December 6, 2016

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Frances Stark, Chorus girl folding self in half (detail), 2008. Paper collage, graphite on paper. Collection Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner. Promised gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Digital image © Whitney Museum of American Art.

UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991–2015
September 17, 2016–January 29, 2017

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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The most comprehensive survey to date of Los Angeles-based artist and writer Frances Stark (born 1967), UH-OH tracks her 25-year career from early carbon drawings and collages to more recent video installations and digital slide shows. Featuring over 100 works, UH-OH provides an in-depth exploration of Stark’s singular artistic practice and voice, as she shares her knowledge of cultural topics high and low, including dissections of art history, the internet, and her creative contemporaries. With words and images at the heart of her practice—and moving between analog and digital modes of assemblage—Stark has been heralded as “the visual poet laureate of the internet age.” 

Autobiography is Stark’s primary mode of expression. From self-examination—sustained meditation on what she’s reading, making, consuming, and doing—come her reflections on literature, music, architecture, art, sex, domesticity, labor, pleasure, pedagogy, and class. Highlights of the exhibition include Stark's pre-YouTube Cat Videos (1999–2002); the playful, provocative, and psychedelic “chorus girl” collages from the series “A Torment of Follies” (2008); My Best Thing (2011), a video that debuted at the 2011 Venice Biennale edited from Stark’s cyber exchanges with two online paramours; and the celebrated video installation Bobby Jesus’s Alma Mater b/w Reading the Book of David and/or Paying Attention Is Free (2013), set to a West Coast gangsta rap soundtrack and featuring images that range from Renaissance paintings, to family snapshots, to portraits of hip-hop legends.

Unlike a traditional chronological survey, this exhibition is designed to aid in a reading of Stark’s work by highlighting recurrent jokes, rhymes, metaphors, and cultural references. The title, UH-OH, a simple response to a complicated problem, contrasts the usually lengthy titles Stark gives to her works. Familiar and percussive, the utterance demonstrates our instinctive awareness of a difficulty, and encourages us to look deeper, think harder, and listen more carefully.

UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991–2015 was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. The exhibition was curated by Ali Subotnick, curator, with Emily Gonzalez-Jarrett, curatorial associate. The presentation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is organized by Liz Munsell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Special Initiatives, position supported by Lorraine Bressler.


Exhibition sponsors
UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991–2015 was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

The exhibition is presented at the MFA with generous support from The Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Fund for Education, Public Programs and Special Projects. Additional support from the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions, the Amy and Jonathan Poorvu Fund for the Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Sculpture, the Diane Krane Family and Jonathan and Gina Krane Family Fund, the Barbara Jane Anderson Fund, the Bruce and Laura Monrad Fund for Exhibitions, and the Susan G. Kohn and Harry Kohn, Jr. Fund for Contemporary Prints.

The exhibition was originated with support from Brenda Potter, along with generous support from Karyn Kohl and Maurice Marciano. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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