Production still from The Broadcast (2019). Courtesy the artist, Ellie Hall, and Orlando Pinder.
News headlines and stories dominate our daily lives. We live today in societies oversaturated with public media output, the content of which is often tailored and delivered specifically to each of us through a wide range of technological devices. But with more information also comes more questions. In this era of hypermedia production, whose stories are considered newsworthy? Whose voices are represented? And who do these stories belong to?
Employing the politics of imagination and representation The Broadcast considers how media shapes and even produces our experience of reality. To create this exhibition, Dutch artist Kirsten Leenaars embarked on a community-based project with a group of young participants from the greater Lansing area. Organized as a three-week summer camp, the artist and participants considered the interplay of truth and distortion within forms of public address, media, culture, and politics, looking at how these forces impact and shape public perception and opinion.
With The Broadcast Leenaars also continues her ongoing examination of storytelling, performativity, and documentary in contemporary video. Made in close collaboration with her participants, the featured works explore various vocally expressive platforms—interviews, show-and-tell, even song—that cultivate agency, creativity, and a multiplicity of viewpoints. In doing so, the artist subverts the conventional positioning of documentary as a purportedly impartial mode of representation.
Through playful yet detailed scenography, planned and impromptu actions, and the production of their own media content, the exploration by these US-born, immigrant, and refugee youth unfolds as a multimedia exhibition in the gallery of the MSU Broad Art Lab. Collectively, they relied on their own lived experiences and imaginations to represent the views of young people more broadly, who are largely absent from the stories spun by mainstream media.
Special thanks to the Lansing Public School District and the College of Communications Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University, including Karl Gude, Brian Kusch, Andrew Acciaioli, and Brooke Striker for their assistance with the project.
The Broadcast is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curator, with the guidance and support of the museum’s education team. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Elizabeth Halsted endowment fund
Friday, November 8, 6-8PM
Art Lab Broad MSU
Kirsten Leenaars is an interdisciplinary video artist based in Chicago. Various forms of performance, theater, and documentary strategies make up the threads that run through her work. She engages with individuals and communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories, and reimagines everyday realities through staging and improvisation.
Leenaars examines through her work how we relate to others. Leenaars has shown nationally and internationally. Recent projects include The Broadcast (2019), a video project for the Broad Museum in East Lansing that considers truth and distortion in public address and media representations and (Re)Housing the American Dream (2015-ongoing), a multi-year performative documentary project with American-born and refugee youth commissioned by the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee. Leenaars has received grants and commissions from, amongst others, the Andy Warhol Foundation, The Mondrian Fund, Milwaukee Art Board Production Grant, and Illinois Humanities.