Lex Brown: Carnelian
In the spring of 2023, the MIT List Visual Arts Center will present the first museum solo exhibition of Philadelphia-based artist Lex Brown.
Spanning video, sculpture, drawing, writing, performance, and the podcast 1-800-POWERS, Lex Brown’s incisive artworks confront pressing social conditions of our time, from gentrification and greenwashing to police violence, but do so through an irreverent and sometimes jarring use of humor.
Steeped in satire and slapstick, her works borrow the visual tropes and intonations of pop culture, social media, and corporate branding. As a central performer in her videos and performance works, Brown mimics and lampoons these sources in order to illuminate the absurdities, contradictions, and exploitative designs of late-capitalism and its social constructs.
Focusing on a fictional corporate conglomerate named Omnesia, her recent video, Communication (2021), takes to task the “cosmic manifest destiny” bids of futurist technologists like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson who seek to colonize and privatize outer space while advancing automation, AI, and big data on this planet. Hyperbolic caricatures of tech executives, played by Brown, receive advice from an AI named Sylvie on how best to harness social media to gather people’s data and desires (in the form of likes, shares, and “tapbacks”) and aid Omnesia’s burgeoning real estate empire. Here, and throughout her work, Brown savvily observes how our relationships to various media—both as consumers and, increasingly, “users” and content producers, all subject to the invisible sway of algorithms—contours our lived experience. In past installations, for example, Brown has utilized motion sensors to cue videos and illuminate drawings in response to a spectator’s path through the exhibition, viewers have accessed sound installations by telephone, and the artist’s poetry has scrolled on the monitors of Closed-Circuit Televisions. At the List Center, Brown will present a new body of video sculptures and drawings under the title Carnelian.
Lex Brown: Carnelian is organized by Selby Nimrod, Assistant Curator.
Lex Brown (b. 1989, Oakland, CA; lives in Philadelphia) has performed and exhibited work at the New Museum, the High Line, the International Center of Photography, Recess, and The Kitchen (all New York); REDCAT Theater and The Hammer Museum (Los Angles); The Baltimore Museum of Art; and at the Munch Museum (Oslo, Norway). She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and an MFA from Yale. Brown is the author of My Wet Hot Drone Summer (Badlands Unlimited, 2017), and the host of the podcast 1-800-POWERS. Brown has taught at Princeton University and at Harvard University as a College Fellow in Theater Dance & Media and Art, Film & Visual Studies, and has lectured widely.
Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Fotene & Tom Coté, Audrey & James Foster, Idee German Schoenheimer, Joyce Linde, Cynthia & John Reed, and Sara-Ann & Robert Sanders. This exhibition is also supported by generous donors to the 2020 McDermott Award Gala, hosted by the Council for the Arts at MIT. Additional support for Lex Brown: Carnelian is generously provided by Deli Gallery, New York and the Harpo Foundation.
General operating support is provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Council for the Arts at MIT; Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost at MIT; the MIT School of Architecture + Planning; the Mass Cultural Council; and many generous individual donors. In-kind media sponsorship provided by 90.9 WBUR. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.