Manny Farber, Domestic Movies, 1985, oil on board, 96 × 96 in.
MOCA presents an ambitious exhibition inspired by American painter and film critic Manny Farber and his legendary underground essay “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art” (1962). One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art features approximately thirty artists and more than 100 works of painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, and sound dating from the 1950s to the present. The exhibition is conceived as a cross between a monographic exhibition and a group show—an experiment in exhibition-making in the spirit of Farber’s call for an art of “both observing and being in the world.” Originally appearing in Film Culture magazine, “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art” was written as a screed against the idea of the masterpiece and works of art produced by “overripe technique shrieking with preciosity, fame, ambition.” Farber championed art that was committed to observation, deep attention, and the unique temporalities of the quotidian. In his words, the production of termite art is a process of “journeying in which the artist seems to be ingesting both the material of his art and the outside world through horizontal coverage.” One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art takes Farber’s idea of termite art as a starting point for assembling works by a diverse group of contemporary artists who explore the problems and pleasures of the everyday.
(Photo courtesy of ResMed Collection.)