MoMA Presents

Ken Okiishi’s Vital Behaviors

Dates to be announced

MoMA

Vital Behaviors. 2019. USA. Directed by Ken Okiishi. Courtesy the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York and Los Angeles
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

Showing in its US premiere, Ken Okiishi’s most recent moving-image work is an engrossing take on the studio portrait. In tasking his real-life fitness coach with restaging social media photographs in reverse order—an embodiment of the social feed, half archive, half look book—the artist plays with notions of identity at the center of contemporary visual culture. That Okiishi’s videos have long made use of recreation only deepens his vision of today’s technology-laden psychodrama. If the turn-of-the-millennium Death and the College Student (1999) memorably sees the artist channeling River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, any fantasy in Vital Behaviors looks inward; in lieu of confession and projection onto cultural icons, self-image is a feedback loop generating new, desirable possibilities at the swipe of a thumb.

More a work of cinema than of influencer culture, this hourlong, meticulously paced work is at turns confounding, tantalizing, and even moving. Okiishi captures the moments in which affect approaches virtuosic performance and a young model becomes an actor. (Indeed, Brian Altemus’s first screen credit is for Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always). With a sort of reciprocal training at play, the work is utterly devoid of cynicism. On the contrary, intimate and self-searching, it tackles social media artifice—even teeters on the edge—and unleashes something entirely profound.

Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].