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Sean P. Means
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Political season reaches into two UMOCA exhibits

Two new exhibits opening Friday at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art are proof that the political season even reaches into the art world:

• "Battleground States" is a show featuring artists from Utah, the nation and internationally, that "explore ideas of how figuration, the body and identity intertwine," as a release from UMOCA puts it.

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"Gender duality is a cultural concept that deserves questioning and this collection of artists and ideas does that," said Aaron Moulton, senior curator at UMOCA, in a statement. "This exhibition brings an unprecedented roster of contemporary artists together to ask whether the body and its representations can tell us who we are."

The exhibition’s narrative begins with Utah artist Trevor Southey, whoes work launched a discussion of gender politics in Utah culture. Adam Price, UMOCA’s executive director, said in a statement that Southey’s work "can serve as the starting point for the reflection, discussion, and community engagement that Battleground States is sure to engender in this state. Because of the presence of Trevor’s work, the exhibition is sure to have special resonance for Utah’s LGBTQ community, but, like Trevor’s work, the entire exhibition is also about something even more universal and sublime: the spiritual journey we each must undertake for meaning in our embodied identity."

The show will run at UMOCA through Jan. 5.

• Jonathan Horowitz’ "Your Land/My Land: Election ‘12" is an installation piece that presents America’s political divide in colorful terms. A room is divided by red and blue carpeted areas, with two large-screen TV sets suspended back to back from the ceiling — with the one in the red area tuned to Fox News, and the one in the blue area showing MSNBC. Lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s song "This Land Is Your Land" will be applied to one wall of the installation.

"This exhibition manages to represent our political system and our country in a way that is both ironically balanced and unnervingly accurate," UMOCA’s Moulton said in a statement. "It gives new agency to art museums as an active space to create dialogue with our visitorship through an event that so profoundly affects us all."

The installation will be open beyond usual museum hours for two events: The vice-presidential debate, on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m.; and election night, Nov. 6, starting at 7 p.m. The installation will be on display through Nov. 24.

Both exhibits will open Friday with UMOCA’s monthly First Friday event, 8 to 10 p.m. The event will include performance by artist Tobias Bernstrup (whose work includes video, live performance and electronic music). DJ Street Jesus will also provide music, and there will be food and a cash bar.

UMOCA is located at 20 W. South Temple, in downtown Salt Lake City.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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