Moki Cherry, Brown Rice, 1975 © Moki Cherry. Photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet
Moki Cherry was typical of her age, but also a trailblazer. In the 1970s, when many artists challenged the authorities, Moki Cherry based her artistic practice not on pointing out faults, but on promoting the values that were actually worth protecting and fighting for. A kind of utopian alternative – what life should we lead, and how? Moderna Museet now presents a rich variety of Moki Cherry’s works and documentary material from her long partnership with Don Cherry.
Moki Cherry (1943–2009) stood out from the notorious movement that arose on the Stockholm art scene in the 1970s and rebelled against the “power”. Although her oeuvre hardly lacked political overtones – with a distinctly feminist agenda, and a more socially critical stance in her later collages – she was not as consistently argumentative as, say, her friends Marie Louise Ekman or Niki de Saint Phalle. Instead, Moki Cherry’s art leaned towards the contemporary experimentation with alternative ways of organising everyday life – counterurbanisation, living off the land, arts projects for kids, and interdisciplinary creative practices.
In 1962, Moki moved from Skåne to Stockholm to study at the Beckmans College of Design. A few years later, she met the American jazz musician Don Cherry (1936–1995), and they embarked on a close collaboration. Separately and together, they made happenings, music, art, posters and album covers, and the large textile application pieces that Moki is famous for. They toured and performed together, combining the various forms of expression on stage in time and space. To describe the lively and open context of which they were the centre, they came up with the concept for Movement Incorporated in 1967. The name was later changed to Organic Music. In 1970, the family moved to an old school house in Tågarp, Skåne, where they lived according to the motto of “the stage as a home, and the home as a stage”. They formed an arts society for art, music and performing arts, along with the Octopussteatern project for kids and teenagers.
“Throughout her artistic career, Moki Cherry lived without making any clear distinction between life and art. Most of her works have no frame, both in the literal and figurative sense. What we see is not paintings. Each object is intimately linked to a context, ideologically and practically. Touring were integral to the music, dance and situations in which people met, but their travels were also one of the reasons why Moki made so many textile appliqué pieces. These works were portable, and easy to pack and hang,” says Fredrik Liew, curator.
Many people associate the Cherrys with Moderna Museet. Pontus Hultén involved them in 1971 in Moderna Museet’s Utopias & Visions 1871-1981, an exhibition with its point of departure in the revolutionary government that ruled Paris in spring 1871, the Paris Commune. During a few summer months, the Cherrys ran an open stage as part of this exhibition. This collaboration was successful to the extent that when Pontus Hultén was asked to start up Centre Pompidou in Paris, he invited them to set up a temporary “Atelier des enfants” (a children’s studio) until the institution was completed.
The exhibition Moment – Moki Cherry highlights the 1970s, but includes works made from 1967 to 2007. Presenting a mixture of Moki cherry’s appliqué works, drawings and collages, together with documentation, music and stage photos, the ambition is to tell the story of these objects, on the road between life, art, pop, jazz, politics and Gesamtkunstwerk.
Moderna Museet - Moment - Moki Cherry - 07.04.2016-08.01.2017