Mood Board

Shotgun Review

Mood Board

By Aaron Harbour September 24, 2014

To create an exhibition or an artwork is to engage in a magic whereby action mixes with declaration, to pluck from the world of matter that which represents language and ideas: this wall, this rock. It is this combination at play in Aidan Koch’s Mood Board.

Strange objects made of marble, rope, ceramics, concrete, fabric, and vinyl stickers abound in this exhibition. The diverse elements on display feel like a family of elements resulting from the process of artistic research and development that, unlike its scientific or engineering counterparts, eschews particular goals. A loose net of rope, dyed blue around the edges, hangs on the wall, its colored ends looking as if they’d soaked up a cartoon sea. A fabric piece hangs opposite; painted or drawn on it are something like an ocean sunset, a cropped face, a circle gradated from black to blue—visually arranged as one would a mood board, simultaneously a composed thing unto itself and a series of notes for something to come. Navigating the relationship between objects and maker, objects and exhibition, and objects and other objects seems inherent to viewing Mood Board. For instance, clay sculptures maintain both the impression of their being made by the hands of their maker and their new identities: a rock, a mask, a vase. The exhibition statement describes “processes of mental resilience humans must undertake to maintain composure and existence in a world of ambivalence and hostility,” but I read in the work a co-opting of this same ambivalence, highlighting an alternative (either/or) and additive (both) relationship between object identity and purpose: a coping strategy for surviving and growing in an over-determined world. 

Aidan Koch. Mood Board, 2014; installation view, Mission Comics & Art Gallery, San Francisco. Courtesy of the Artist and Mission Comics & Art Gallery.

In Koch’s publication “Notes and Other Writing,”1 coinciding with her recent show at the City Limits gallery in Oakland, her images and poetic text take turns describing or perhaps un-describing things:

Conch shell calls from the rocks on summer solstice in the Hawaiian Islands.

Conch shells cast into the black stone garden walls of Frida Khalo’s house in Mexico City.

Conch shell in a glass case at Museo Soumaya.

Conch shell on the side table at M’s house in Los Angeles.

Conch shell at the entrance of the Occidental house.

Serendipitous constellations

The works in Mood Board make up such a constellation. As the works will likely be dispersed post-show or recalled by viewers, reminded by seeing something somewhere else, the constellation will be constantly redrawn.

Through a subtle shift of intentions, the concrete-brick-walled back section of Mission Comics, which originally focused on shows of comic books and zines, has become an exciting place for contemporary art though careful declaration by its curator, Quintessa Matranga. Like Koch, many of the artists exhibiting in these shows have a background in or experience working with graphic novels, drawing, or zines. In such a project lies the continued potential of this or any region to make something happen in interstitial, underutilized, and undervalued spaces. In order to ensure this scene stays vital, the onus is on us as a community to support the adventurous. Mood Board is a great example of what can happen in such a space; it should not to be missed.

Mood Board is on view at Mission: Comics & Art, in

San Francisco

, through September 30, 2014.


  1. Aidan Koch, Notes and Other Writing (Portland: Publication Studio, 2014)

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