March 24 – December 17, 2023
Subrosa is the first solo museum exhibition by Na Mira, an artist who uses intuitive and experimental processes to create immersive moving image installations. MOCA has commissioned a new chapter of Mira’s project imagining White Dust From Mongolia, an unfinished film by the late artist and author Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. In Subrosa, nonlinear films, radio transmissions, and the color red bleed together to touch the edges of memory.
The exhibition features two pieces shot on 16mm film and infrared video in Los Angeles and South Korea: Noraebang, a new commission for MOCA, and a two-channel installation, TETRAPHOBIA (2022). Both films are guided by Mira’s dialogue with Cha, who worked with structuralism, fragmentation, poetry, and Shamanism throughout the 1970s. The film White Dust addresses the military occupation of Korea and its impacts on migration and language, and was left unfinished at the time of Cha’s murder in 1982. Informed by her own Korean matrilineal history, Mira engages the materials and gaps within Cha’s archive to attend to collective experiences of diaspora. Expanding on the original plot where two characters meet inside a memory, Mira follows Cha’s script, revisiting charged sites and recording scenes at a theater, a house in Seoul, and a portrait studio, allowing her own performance, autobiography, and witnessing to transmute the story.
In the gallery, each reel of unedited black and white footage is arranged side by side in the shape of an unfolding cube and plays simultaneously to allow multiple points of entry. Mirrors within the installation double, reverse, and refract images off the screen and across the floor. Informed by her ancestral practices and the fallible nature of technology, the artist invites synchronicity into her process. As such, the works are animated by glitches, light leaks, and the soundtrack of a Korean radio station that began playing from a microphone in Mira’s studio while filming. These errant frequencies cause the films’ narratives to shudder and multiply, colliding past and present.
The exhibition’s title, Subrosa, means “under the rose,” an ancient reference to secrecy, and evokes red, a color that permeates the exhibition. Red supports film’s development in the darkroom and the architecture of the cinema because its long waveform is the first to drop out of sight. Moving though the installation, red flickers in and out of view; placing the images at a threshold of disappearance, Mira looks toward another realm.
Na Mira: Subrosa is organized by Alexis Wilkinson, Assistant Curator.
This exhibition is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, VIA Art Fund and Wagner Foundation, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, Park View / Paul Soto, and MOCA Tucson’s Board of Trustees, Ambassador Council, and Members.
In-kind support provided by The Downtown Clifton Hotel and Exo Coffee Co.
About the artist:
Na Mira (b. 1982) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent exhibitions, screenings and performances have been presented at Whitney Biennial 2022, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Kitchen, and Participant Inc., New York; Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; Seoul Museum of Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, amongst others. Upcoming presentations include Art Sonje Center, Seoul and Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Mira graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and University of California Los Angeles and her works are in the public collections of Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Walker Art Center. Wendy’s Subway recently published the first collection of Mira’s writing.
Image Credits: Installation view, Na Mira: Subrosa, MOCA Tucson, 2023. Photograph by Maya Hawk, copyright © MOCA Tucson, 2023; Na Mira, TETRAPHOBIA, 2022, installation view, Subrosa, MOCA Tucson, 2023. Photograph by Maya Hawk, copyright © MOCA Tucson, 2023; Na Mira, Noreabang, 2023, installation view, Subrosa, MOCA Tucson, 2023. Photograph by Maya Hawk, copyright © MOCA Tucson, 2023.