Elspeth Walker reviews the exhibition Pattern Recognition at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, curated by Dexter Wimberly, on view through October 6, 2013.
Walker writes that the show "is concerned not merely with aesthetics but with using abstract art as a kind of cultural tool. Pattern Recognition, in its concentrated endeavor to make its artistic discipline accessible to the community, asks an important question: how might we 'mobilize' abstract art? In its varied attempts to instruct the viewer on how to recognize its patterns, Pattern Recognition courts the difficulty of the abstract’s relationship to the viewer’s 'understanding.' Abstract art (a historically contentious discipline) functions largely as an effort to evade representation. Speaking about abstract work using language—itself a system of representation— thus tends to seduce the speaker into a mise en abyme. I am torn as to whether to consider the paintings as surface-level art objects or as tools to tell cultural stories; the show traps me in between."