October 20, 2023 – February 2024
Magma & Pearls: Oceans Rise and Fall Like Meteorites is the first solo museum exhibition by artist and performer Keioui Keijaun Thomas that expands on her ongoing practice of world-building to create spaces of safety, joy, and healing. Transforming MOCA’s Great Hall into a speculative, post-apocalyptic geography through site-specific installations, the multimedia exhibition includes video, sculpture, artist performances, and community-generated programming. The project builds on over a decade of Thomas’ work that explores the affective and material conditions of Black and trans identity, expands her embodied research to consider the impacts of climate catastrophe, and imagines new ways to exist in relation to the American landscape.
Keioui Keijaun Thomas: Magma & Pearls is organized by Alexis Wilkinson, Assistant Curator.
Exhibition partner is The University of Arizona LGBTQ+ Institute (formerly the Institute for LGBT Studies).
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the LGBTQ+ Alliance Fund held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and MOCA Tucson’s Board of Trustees, Ambassador Council, and Members.
In-kind support provided by The Downtown Clifton Hotel.
About the artist
Keioui Keijaun Thomas is a New York-based artist. She creates live performance and multimedia installations that address blackness outside of a codependent, binary structure of existence. Her performances combine rhapsodic layers of live and recorded voice, slipping between various modes of address, to explore the pleasures and pressures of dependency, care, and support. By centering self and communal care in real-time, Thomas’ practice aims to build bridges of understanding and community. Thomas has presented work both nationally and internationally at The Rhubarb Festival, Toronto (2023); Skopje Pride Queer Arts Festival, Skopje, Macedonia (2020); Dweller Festival, Brooklyn (2020); ANTI – Contemporary Art Festival, Kuopio, Finland (2019); Fierce Festival, Birmingham, UK (2019); Time-Based Art Festival, Portland (2016); Rapid Pulse Performance Art Festival, Chicago (2016); SPILL Festival of Performance, Ipswich, UK (2014); Out of Site Festival, Chicago (2014). Solo performances at The Knockdown Center, New York (2018), Harvard University, Cambridge (2018); Performance Space UK, Folkestone, UK (2016); Housing NY, Brooklyn (2016); and Human Resources, Los Angeles (2015). Select group exhibitions at Performance Space, New York (2019); Wrightwood 659, Chicago (2019); Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2019); Artists Space, New York (2018); Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston (2018); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2018); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2018); Broad Museum, Los Angeles (2017); New Normal, Istanbul and Beirut (2017); Encuentro 2016, Santiago (2016); Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2016); EXPO Chicago, Chicago (2015); Théâtre de la Ville, Paris (2015). Solo exhibitions include No Longer Strange Fruit, JOAN, California (2023), Come Hell or High Femmes, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio (2022); and Hands Up, Ass Out, Participant Inc., New York (2021). Thomas is a 2022 recipient of the MAP Fund, the inaugural winner of the Queer|Art 2020 Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, and the Franklin Furnace Fund Recipient for 2018. She earned her Masters degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA with Honors from the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Image Credit: Keioui Keijaun Thomas, Come Hell or High Femmes: Act 2. The Last Femmes on Earth: Dripping Doll Energy (detail), 2021. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Hannah Patterson.