micha cárdenas speaks at the Museum of Modern Art


IAS faculty member micha cárdenas spoke at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on September 16, as part of the MoMA R&D series. The topic of the panel was "Fluid States" and included three artists and a curator discussing the ways that concepts of fluidity have played a role in government, art, and social justice movements. 


Full panel description:

MoMA R&D: Fluid States
Curated by Paolo Antonelli
September 16, 2016

Featuring talks by:

  • micha cárdenas - Artist/Theorist
  • Thomas Lax - Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA
  • Carlos Motta - Multi-disciplinary artist
  • Latoya Peterson - Hip-hop feminist and digital alchemist
  • Tricia Wang - Digital anthropologist

In Greek mythology, Proteus is a prophetic old man who possesses the ability to alter his form, posing as a serpent, a tree, and water, among other incarnations. His shape-shifting fluidity presaged contemporary notions of identity which transcend boundaries previously considered immutable--among them are nationality, gender, sexuality, and race. Today, an open flow of information, culture, and people are contributing to the erosion of normative socio-cultural regimes whilst paving the way for an increasingly fluid conception of personal identity.

For some, this widening margin of tolerance towards identity fluidity--facilitated by societal, political, legal, and medical developments--offers emancipation from narrow definitions that sought to curtail expression, experimentation, and ultimately, self-realization. For others, such fluidity is an assault on traditional values, fostering social movements dedicated to reestablishing ‘the traditional family,’ ‘true femininity,’ ‘real masculinity,’ and even more menacingly, ‘racial purity.’

In this salon dedicated to fluidity, we will tackle some of these questions: What are the key mechanisms behind the propagation of fluidity? Do fluid identities foster progressive societies? By extension, do monolithic definitions of identity traits necessarily breed fundamentalism? If fluidity is irreducible from choice, is the protean self a manifestation of market capitalism? If encyclopedic museums have historically exhibited material culture derived from a plethora of discrete cultural identities, how can contemporary (art) museums respond to this age of fluidity? How have artists compellingly explored notions of fluidity in their work? And, how has their work helped individuals and communities navigate the spectrum of identity expression? How can we move beyond tolerance and assimilation towards total social equity?