The University of Michigan Museum of Art has commissioned New York-based artist, designer and multifaceted maker Machine Dazzle for a site-specific installation at its Irving Stenn Jr. Family Gallery.
To support production of the work, UMMA will partner with the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, awarding the annual Roman J. Witt Residency to Dazzle for the 2024 season.
Titled “Ouroboros,” the installation will be on view starting March 14, 2024, and will transform in increasing maximal iterations, unveiling again in April and in June, when the sculpture will become animated and wearable by a team of 15 U-M students.
The exhibition continues through Aug. 25, 2024.
This is Machine Dazzle’s first museum installation commission and his first exhibition in the Midwest. It follows his performance commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Arts and Design, “Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle,” both in New York, and Harbourfront Centre’s “Art and Intention” exhibition in Toronto.
“The ouroboros is an ancient symbol, depicting a snake eating its own tail,” Dazzle said. “Originating in ancient Egypt and the Greek magical tradition, it represents infinity, eternal life, and birth, death and rebirth; the meanings resonant as I plan to construct the ouroboros using found objects, much of this from local bodies of water.
“As part of the collaboration with UMMA, I look forward to the opportunity to experiment, to push my artistic practice in new directions.”
“Ouroboros” is envisioned as an evolving artwork. Three distinct chapters will fill the 1,200-square-foot Stenn Gallery, with the artist expanding, transforming and activating aspects of the installation during the exhibition’s six-month run. The dynamic installation includes a soundscape produced by playing instruments made from found objects underwater — a new, experimental process for Dazzle.
“Ouroboros: Chapter One,” opening March 14, 2024, will be accompanied by Dazzle’s appearance as featured artist on the high-profile Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the Michigan Theater.
“Ouroboros: Chapter Two,” opening April 30, 2024, will include the activation of U-M student creations inspired by the installation and created in collaboration with Dazzle.
“Ouroboros: Chapter Three” will open June 28, 2024, culminating in a performance activation of “Ouroboros”where the sculpture will be worn by 15 performers and promenaded beyond the gallery.
The June opening also will include a public capstone interview with the artist that explores his process and reflections on completing the installation. This culmination of the project coincides with the climax of LGBTQ Pride Month.
Dazzle’s first visit to the U-M campus is planned for Nov. 27-Dec. 15, during which he will begin work on the central frame of “Ouroboros,” spend time salvaging found materials that will serve as the foundation for his installation, and engage with students and faculty across the campus in preparation for the exhibition.
The collaboration with the Roman J. Witt Residency program makes the production of new work possible and will see Dazzle integrating collaborations with students into the project, using U-M studios and other facilities, and allowing the broader community to see the creative process in action.
“Machine Dazzle’s work is a glittering kaleidoscope of joyful creativity, where every color, shape and sparkle is testament to the limitless possibilities of the queer imagination,” said Jim Leija, deputy director for public experience and learning at UMMA and the co-producer of the project. “We are thrilled to bring Machine to U-M’s campus and to partner with him.
“The commission with Machine also continues UMMA’s commitment to supporting artists and fostering dialogues about contemporary social and political contexts. This also presents a new milestone in the ongoing evolution of Machine’s groundbreaking multidisciplinary practice.”
“Ouroboros” continues UMMA’s vision to present artists whose work reflects both formal breakthroughs and thoughtful engagement with the issues of our time.