Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Kota Ezawa

Lennon Sontag Beuys, 2004

Three-screen video projection with sound cones

Dimensions variable.

Restricted gift of Collectors Forum.

Ezawa has created a flat, painterly video animation that refers to culturally charged moments from our recent past: the famous “bed-in for peace” in Amsterdam in 1969 with musician and activist John Lennon (British, 1940–80) and his wife Yoko Ono (Japanese American, b. 1933), conceptual artist Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–86) speaking in 1974 at the New School in New York on his thesis of social sculpture, and a 2001 talk by theorist and novelist Susan Sontag (American, 1933–2004) at Columbia University about violent images in the history of photography. Each figure represents messages of protest through music, art, and literature, while seamlessly looped footage becomes complicated by the others, resulting in a combination of potent political statements. Ezawa further suggests a tension between figures who discuss weighty themes yet resemble flattened cartoon-style of the irreverent adult cartoon series South Park, thus questioning the function of images in our collective social memory.