In May, 2017 MOCAD will open a major group exhibition of a diverse range of 99 artists making work from items purchased at America’s ubiquitous 99 Cent stores. Jens Hoffmann invited 99 artists all based in the United States to purchase items at 99 Cent stores, each spending up to a total of $99. The artists will use those materials to create new artworks that will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
99 Cents or Less will present the work of: Kelly Akashi, Kathryn Andrews, Uri Aran, Julieta Aranda, Edgar Arceneaux, Corrie Baldauf, John Baldessari, Heidi Barlow, Michael Bell-Smith, Brian Belott, Frank Benson, Jennifer Bornstein, Andrea Bowers, Chris Bradley, Jon Brumit, Dora Budor, Nicholas Buffon, A.K. Burns, Jedediah Caesar, Juan Capistran, James Collins, Matt Connors, Bjorn Copeland, Sarah Crowner, Sara Cwynar, N. Dash, Nathaniel de Large, Michael DeLucia, Jim Drain, Josh Faught, Harrell Fletcher, Liam Gillick, Samara Golden, Piero Golia, Michelle Grabner, Nicolas Guagnini, Henry Gunderson, Mark Handforth, Lena Henke, Marie Hermann, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ben Hall, Channing Hansen, Scott Hocking, Jonathan Horowitz, Alex Israel, Alfredo Jaar, Colter Jacobsen, Elizabeth Jaeger, Meredith James, Matt Johnson, Rashid Johnson, Sarah Kabot, Shaina Kasztelan, Osman Khan, Thomas Kovachevich, Andrew Kuo, Agnieszka Kurant, Jason Lazarus, Pamela Lins, Mateo Lopez, Bonnie Lucas, Shana Lutker, Jill Magid, Anthony Marcellini, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Josiah McElheny, Adam McEwen, Heather McGill, Jason Meadows, Josephine Meckseper, Sarah Meyohas, Jason Middlebrook, Carter Mull, Matt Mullican, Ruben Ochoa, Arthur Ou, Virginia Overton, Hamilton Poe, Walter Price, Rob Pruitt, Puppies Puppies, Jonathan Rajewski, Chadwick Rantanen, Sean Raspet, Hans Dieter Rieder, John Riepenhoff, Will Rogan, Matthew Ronay, Aura Rosenberg, Amanda Ross-Ho, Sterling Ruby, Michael Scoggins, Robert Sestok, Arlene Shechet, Amy Sillman, Casey Silverstein, Laurie Simmons, Michael B. Smith, Philip Smith, Agathe Snow, Valeska Soares, Haim Steinbach, Jessica Stockholder, Ricky Swallow, Cheyney Thompson, Clarissa Tossin, J Parker Valentine, Jamian Juliano Villani, Michael Wang, Garth Weiser, Eric Wesley, Jeff Williams, Viola Ye?iltaç, and Mario Ybarra Jr.
“Although the exhibition may at first appear rather straightforward and perhaps even brash given the direct connection it is making between the world of art and the world of commerce, 99 Cents or Less is a reflection on the development of the United States’ economy and its large income inequalities, as well as a reflection on the role and function of arts institutions in times of economic hardship and political turmoil,” says, Jens Hoffmann, Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at Large.
As of 2016, there are about forty thousand dollar stores operating in the United States, together making about $50 billion in annual revenue. The dollar store phenomenon has become such a large part of the country’s retail industry that the New York Times proclaimed that we are living in the “age of the dollar-store economy.” While about 50 percent of the stores’ customers earn less than $30,000 per year, roughly 20 percent make $70,000 or more, pointing towards how conspicuous frugality has replaced the conspicuous consumption of the pre-2008 era.
99 Cents or Less is also a reflection on the realities of a city that once was one of the country’s wealthiest, and a global industrial powerhouse. By using materials from 99 cent stores, with often obscure and questionable manufacturing chains, 99 Cents or Less hopes to make the connection between past, present, and future centers of production and points to a way that artists can address the manners in which mass production has changed and will continue to change and evolve. The exhibition follows Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the readymade, an industrially produced consumer item that is manipulated via an intervention by the artist. More over 99 Cents or Less understands itself as an extension of the Italian art movement Arte Povera within the globalized field of 21st century high end art manufacturing. Arte Povera critiqued the corporate mentality and the slick styles of art made in the 1950s and 60s with an art made of inexpensive and unconventional materials.
This exhibition will be accompanied by a publication and a series of public programs that will explore subjects like consumerism, trade, labor, new materialism, acceleration, poverty, and prosperity as well as art as commodity.
99 Cents or Less is curated by Jens Hoffmann, Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at Large and organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Curatorial support is provided by Scott Campbell, Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow at MOCAD. Exhibition Management is provided by Zeb Smith, Exhibitions Manager. Design provided by Jon Sueda of Stripe SF.