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Language in Times of Miscommunication

Mar 4 - Aug 27, 2023

This exhibition presents artworks that use various forms of language to critically examine the complexities of social reality during times of rampant miscommunication.


Language in Times of Miscommunication presents artworks by eighteen American artists that incorporate various forms of language (poetry, speculative fiction, and slang), modes of communication (propaganda, protest, social media, and advertising), and research (archives, political documents, and the news). The assembled works form a timely exchange about the slippery relationship between opinion, fact, and fiction in order to address the socio-political ramifications of divisive language and alternative narratives that have unraveled society since 2016—a year that marked a shift in recognizing the fallibility of communication in the United States. The exhibition and artworks do not ignore the polemical and rarely posit either fact or truth; rather they attempt to incite a critical and expansive discourse about the complexities of social reality in times of rampant miscommunication.

The exhibition presents artwork in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, print, textiles, ceramics, neon, video, sound, installation, social media, and public interventions in three of SMoCA’s main galleries and front window, as well as various locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix. The accompanying catalogue acts as a twofold object—publication and artwork by Polymode—that presents an extensive essay and numerous color illustrations through an unorthodox layout that conveys notions of intentional and unintentional miscommunication.

Artists include Kristin Bauer, April Bey, Andrea Bowers, York Chang, Jeremy Dean, Jeffrey Gibson, Jenny Holzer, Christopher Jagmin, Glenn Ligon, Patrick Martinez, Elizabeth Moran, Ann Morton, Polymode, William Powhida, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Horacio Rodriquez, Safwat Saleem, and Anna Tsouhlarakis.

Organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art, with Keshia Turley, curatorial assistant. Exhibition support provided by Mark J. and Elizabeth L. Kogan Family Trust, Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, and Peggy Sharp.

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