Carl Craig Is Bringing Techno to the Galleries of MOCA

Carl Craig Is Bringing Techno to the Galleries of MOCA

Detroit-based techno pioneer Carl Craig is no stranger to filling out a warehouse. Over the course of his 30-year career, the celebrated DJ and producer has played all sorts of rooms, from Carnegie Hall with his Synthesizer Ensemble to hosting live streams from South Africa's former apartheid prison Constitution Hill, even performing at the Tese 98 naval complex for the 59th Venice Biennale (and that's just in the past two years).

But Craig's next endeavor sees him elevating his club sounds to a whole new level as he's set to bring an immersive installation to Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary (MOCA).

Originally commissioned by the Dia Art foundation, Craig is set to bring his Party/After-Party installation to the museum's WAREHOUSE space at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA just in time to coincide with their annual fundraising gala. Drawing on Craig's extensive experience as a globe-trotting DJ, Party/After-Party invites visitors to experience the physical and auditory sensation of moving through a club from the perspective of a DJ.

From the quiet early moments before the doors open to the night's pulsating apex and finally emerging into the melancholic clarity of it's afterglow, the installation plays off of the space's architecture, interspersing thin strips of neon lights that pierce through cavernous industrial void before opening up into a bath of natural light with skylights symbolizing the night's transition to "dawn."

Conceived of prior to the advent of COVID-19 pandemic before all clubs were forced to shutter their doors, Party/After-Party is a reminder of the unique communal ecstasy and harsh desolation that we were deprived of over the past three years. Additionally, the site-specific soundscape honors techno's Black history and the industrial landscape of the city that gave birth to the genre.

“With Party/After-Party, Craig fuses the legacies of Detroit techno and minimalist sound art,” MOCA Associate Curator and organizer of the exhibition, Alex Sloane, said in a statement. “Using MOCA’s WAREHOUSE itself as the inspiration for his composition, Craig has created a new chapter for the work. Melding an afrofuturist aesthetic with a playful commitment to the unexpected, Party/After-Party situates club culture firmly within the museum space and does so through the lens of techno and the Black artists who pioneered the genre.”

Of the project, Carl Craig told PAPER in 2020 that: "The work itself is a reflection of my reality — the visual, sonic, and emotional connections or disconnections that I have experienced over the past thirty years as a DJ on the road. In contrast to the glamorous perception of the touring musician, I wanted to reflect the isolation of the many hours spent alone in hotel rooms and the tinnitus that I, and many other artists, have to contend with as a result of our work...when you step into this vast space, it is like stepping into a reflection of my own mind."

Along with the opening of Party/After-Party, MOCA has teamed up with Insomniac and Secret Project a series of three live concerts at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on Thursday, May 25, Saturday, June 17 and Saturday, July 22. Organized with Craig, the Party/After-Party session will feature performances from Moodymann, DJ Holographic, Moritz von Oswald, King Britt, DJ Minx and Kenny Larkin among others as an extension of the installation and Craig's practice.

Carl Craig's Party/After-Party will be on display at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA starting April 16 through July 23.

Photo courtesy of MoCA