News headlines and stories dominate our daily lives. We live today in societies oversaturated with public media output, the content of which is often tailored and delivered specifically to each of us through a wide range of technological devices. But with more information also comes more questions. In this era of hypermedia production, whose stories are considered newsworthy? Whose voices are represented? And who do these stories belong to?
Employing the politics of imagination and representation The Broadcast considers how media shapes and even produces our experience of reality. To create this exhibition, Chicago-based artist Kirsten Leenaars embarked on a community-based project with a group of young participants from the greater Lansing area. Organized as a three-week summer camp, the artist and participants considered the interplay of truth and distortion within forms of public address, media, culture, and politics, looking at how these forces impact and shape public perception and opinion.
With The Broadcast Leenaars also continues her ongoing examination of storytelling, performativity, and documentary in contemporary video. Made in close collaboration with her participants, the featured works explore various vocally expressive platforms—interviews, show-and-tell, even song—that cultivate agency, creativity, and a multiplicity of viewpoints. In doing so, the artist subverts the conventional positioning of documentary as a purportedly impartial mode of representation.
Through playful yet detailed scenography, planned and impromptu actions, and the production of their own media content, the exploration by these US-born, immigrant, and refugee youth unfolds as a multimedia exhibition in the gallery of the MSU Broad Art Lab. Collectively, they relied on their own lived experiences and imaginations to represent the views of young people more broadly, who are largely absent from the stories spun by mainstream media.
Special thanks to the Lansing Public School District and the College of Communications Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University, including Karl Gude, Brian Kusch, Andrew Acciaioli, and Brooke Striker for their assistance with the project.
The Broadcast is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curator, with the guidance and support of the museum’s education team. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Elizabeth Halsted endowment fund.