The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents Carl Craig: Party/After-Party at the museum’s Warehouse location at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. The opening coincides with MOCA’s largest annual fundraising event, the MOCA Gala, which will celebrate Craig’s epic installation and other exhibitions on view at both MOCA locations.
The exhibition will open to the public on Sunday April 16, 2023.
“We are thrilled to bring Carl Craig’s innovative, timely, and evocative work Party/After-Party to MOCA,” said Johanna Burton, The Maurice Marciano Director. “The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is a remarkably fitting space for this experiential piece to unfold its second, post-pandemic, chapter. Craig’s unique activation of Warehouse is tremendously exciting. Experimental and immersive projects that invite our audiences to engage with art in new and unusual ways are core to our program at MOCA.”
Detroit-based techno DJ and producer Carl Craig’s sensorial environment Party/After-Party (2020) is a visceral sound and somatic experience that evolves with each new iteration. Drawing on Craig’s 30-year career as an international ambassador of techno, Party/After-Party guides visitors sonically through a club night from the perspective of the DJ. Starting in those moments before the crowd arrives and the DJ spins alone, before reaching its crescendo with the party’s pulsing apex, and finally slipping towards the melancholic embrace of the after-party, the work evokes the collective ecstasy and desolation found only on a club dance floor.
“With Party/After-Party, Craig fuses the legacies of Detroit techno and minimalist sound art,” said Alex Sloane, MOCA Associate Curator and organizer of the exhibition. “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.”
Originally commissioned by Dia Art Foundation, this sonic statement responds directly to the architecture of The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA’s Warehouse space and reclaims the former manufacturing site and police storage facility as a platform for reinvention and radical innovation. Upon entry, visitors are enveloped by Craig’s soundscape. As one moves through Warehouse, techno beats fill the structure, the darkness broken intermittently by neon strips, before the skylights above flood the space with natural light, signaling the cycle’s peak and the transition towards “dawn.”
While Party/After-Party was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic, the context of the past three years makes it impossible to enter the space without craving the heat and thudding bass of clubs such as Berlin’s iconic Berghain, which Craig has headlined, while also acknowledging the collective loss of communal experiences. Beats build and recede, evolving slightly with every 30-minute evolution so that no two cycles of the work are the same, and at times incorporate references to Craig’s tinnitus, a byproduct of a lifetime of loud music; Party/After-Party is Craig’s invitation into his personal world and the spaces he shapes through sound.
Alongside Party/After-Party, MOCA, in collaboration with Insomniac and Secret Project, will present Party/After-Party Sessions, a series of three live concerts at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on Thursday, May 25, Saturday, June 17, and Saturday, July 22. Co-organized with Craig, who will also perform, the sessions will feature artists Moodymann, DJ Holographic, Moritz von Oswald, King Britt, DJ Minx, and Kenny Larkin, among others, in a continuation of the collaborations that are at the heart of Craig’s practice.
Party/After-Party Sessions are presented as part of the Spring/Summer 2023 season of Wonmi’s Warehouse Programs. From April through July, Wonmi’s Warehouse Programs will take over The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA with new performances and live art. Highlights include a major performance commission, a radio residency, and regular programming spanning theater, dance, multi-sensory discursive events, and community organizing. Additional details on the season’s offerings to follow. In celebration of the exhibition, MOCA members will enjoy free admission to the Thursday, May 25 live concert. In addition, members will have early ticket access to all Party/After-Party Sessions and receive a discount on tickets for the June and July concerts.
Carl Craig began his career as a DJ and producer in the late 1980s and soon became an influential figure on the Detroit techno scene. He is frequently acknowledged as one of electronic music’s most wide-ranging artists, and he continues to push the boundaries of the field by integrating it with genres such as classical music, jazz, soul, and world beat, among many others. A Grammy-nominated composer, Craig has released numerous recordings on his own Planet E record label, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. He has also worked under various aliases and explored an even greater range of sounds through his celebrated remix and production work with a large cast of collaborators. Carl’s boundless creativity has resulted in a discography that contains an exhaustive collection of nearly 40 solo cuts, plus a wide array of collaborations, remixes, and albums. He has produced six LPs, the most recent being Versus (2017), which saw him collaborate with pianist Francesco Tristano, French orchestra Les Siècles, conductor François-Xavier Roth, and instrumentalist Moritz von Oswald. Sessions (2008), Craig’s two-disc mix that reimagines over fifteen years of his musical catalog, earned him a Grammy nomination for his rework of Junior Boys ‘Like a Child’. In 2019, at Royal Albert Hall in London, Craig collaborated with Chineke! Orchestra to perform the track “Versus” alongside others such as “At Les,” “The Melody,” and “Sandstorms.”
In 2020 Dia Art Foundation premiered Party/After-Party. This work is Craig’s first commission for an art institution and culminated a five-year engagement with Dia. The institution announced the acquisition of this large-scale installation and sound work in December 2021.
That same year the artist collaborated with Italian couture house Bottega Veneta’s then creative director, Daniel Lee, to create Runway, a series of site-specific sonic sculptures and minimal light installations in the subterranean parking garage of the historic Michigan Building Theater in Detroit. In early 2022 the Carl Craig Synthesizer Ensemble partnered with New York’s Carnegie Hall for the Afrofuturism Festival, a citywide festival exploring music, visual arts, science fiction, and technology through the lens of Black cultures. Also in 2022, for the 59th Venice Biennale, Craig performed a special set in the naval complex Tese 98, in celebration of artist Stan Douglas’s participation in the Canadian Pavilion. Craig is known for his deep commitment to his hometown of Detroit, both as an admired civic leader and a strong ambassador of local culture. He served as co-creator and artistic director of Detroit’s annual Movement Electronic Music Festival in 2000, 2001, and 2010. He also founded the Carl Craig Foundation, which supports emerging local talent through music-education scholarships, professional development, and training opportunities. Please be advised that Party/After-Party features low lighting and strobe effects. The sound levels average 86 decibels, with occasional peaks as high as 97 decibels. Some visitors may wish to use hearing protection.