Material Ecology

Neri Oxman to get solo show at MoMA

The second iteration of Neri Oxman's Silk Pavilion will be the focal point of a new solo exhibition at MoMA next year. (Courtesy The Mediated Matter Group)

Next year, a solo show on the work of the architect, designer, and inventor Neri Oxman will go on view at the Museum of Modern Art. Neri Oxman: Material Ecology will highlight eight major projects that showcase the evolution of the research and innovative designs Oxman has conducted over the course of her 15-year career. 

Curated by Paola Antonelli and Anna Burckhardt, the monographic exhibition will shine a spotlight on the expertise Oxman has harnessed as a professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, and founder of the now well-known Mediated Matter Group, a research organization that fabricates nature-inspired design. One of Oxman’s biggest claims to fame is “material ecology,” a term she coined to describe the work process by which she utilizes computational design, digital fabrication technologies, and material science to produce projects that are “informed by the structural, systemic, and aesthetic wisdom of nature.” 

Photo of two people in white shirts looking at a wall of shapely objects that are transparent and feature brown to yellow colors

Auguahoja Artifacts Display (Courtesy The Mediated Matter Group)

The American-Israel architect’s self-titled MoMA show will be organized around a site-specific work viewable for the first time. Silk Pavilion II harnesses the strength of 6,500 silkworms to fill in gaps left in a 3D-printed cocoon created from an algorithm that produced the structure from a single, continuous thread. Up close, the object resembles an opaque geodesic dome with patches of thread in varying densities. 

Aguahoja (2018) will run alongside Silk Pavilion II, which “aims to subvert the industrial cycle of material extraction and obsolescence” by using nature’s abundant biomaterials to create digitally-fabricated structures that are light, flexible, and react to the environment in ways synthetic materials can not. Glass I and II (2015, 2017) will also be displayed along with Totems (2019), a series of columns made from melanin synthesized from mushrooms. A prototype of these was first commissioned for the XXII Triennale de Milano Broken Nature exhibition, also curated by Antonelli. These pieces will feature a range of 3D-printed liquid channels of melanin pigments from different species.

Photo of 3-D printed coils made of glass

Glass I (Courtesy The Mediated Matter Group)

Neri Oxman: Material Ecology will be on display at the MoMA from February 22 through May 25, 2020, after the completion of the museum’s high-profile expansion. A video will accompany each of Oxman’s projects to demonstrate the specific science and production processes behind her work.

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