Go to moma.org

Devin Kenny: rootkits rootwork

June 9-September 2, 2019


Devin Kenny raises timely questions about the shape of racial politics and community in contemporary America, interrogating the interconnected dynamics of gentrification, displacement, and diaspora. For his first museum solo exhibition, Kenny encourages us to consider how the technologies that facilitate online communities and activism develop alongside the displacement and systemic oppression and marginalization of Black people in the US.

Much as his work does, Kenny’s exhibition title links together networks of disparate references. “Rootkits” are a form of computer virus that undetectably alter the underlying operating system; “rootwork” alludes to practices of Black-American folk magic, and both reference the DNA kits that allow people to explore their heritage. In more than a dozen works across a range of media—including some created for the exhibition—Kenny draws particular inspiration from network technologies, locating unsettling intersections of complicity and exploitation, which his work often resists. Employing the popular cultures of memes, music, fast fashion, and viral media, the artist subtly reveals ubiquitous and often invisible structures of injustice and exclusion.

Devin Kenny (American, b. 1987) is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, musician, and independent curator. He has collaborated with various art and music venues in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including Recess; Het Roode Bioscoop; REDCAT; Freak City; Julia Stoschek Collection; the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; SOMA Summer, Mexico City; Goethe-Institut New York, and MoMA PS1, where he participated in Greater New York (2015). A graduate of Cooper Union, Kenny received his MFA in 2013 from the New Genres department at UCLA and is an alumnus of the Whitney Independent Study Program.

Devin Kenny: rootkits rootwork is organized by Peter Eleey, Chief Curator with Oliver Shultz, Curatorial Associate.

The exhibition is supported by The Tom Slaughter Exhibition Fund. Additional funding is provided by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund.


Important: By downloading images you are agreeing to the following permissions: Images are provided exclusively to the press, and only for purposes of publicity of The Museum of Modern Art's and MoMA PS1's current and upcoming exhibitions, programs, and news announcements. Permission to use images is granted only to the extent of the Museum's and MoMA PS1's ownership rights relating to those images—the responsibility for any additional permissions remains solely with the party reproducing the images. The images must be accompanied by the credit line and any copyright information as it appears above, and the party reproducing the images must not distort or mutilate the images.

Devin Kenny. Do You Even Talk To Your Neighbors?, 2018. 35-gallon drum grill, photographs, documents, cellular phones, aluminum foil. 56 x 18.5 x 52 inches.Courtesy the artist.

Devin Kenny. Black Networks, 2018. acrylic, oil, and mixed media on canvas. 36 x 36 inches. Courtesy the artist.

Devin Kenny. Ain’t nobody seein’ me (IR mask). 2014. Baseball cap emblazoned with Worldstar Hiphop logo, outfitted with Infrared LEDs, Size 8. Special thanks Jesse Harding. Courtesy the artist.

Devin Kenny. dkyk “el aire es mugre” “ne2c” from Queering the Wheel curated by Antonius Bui and Tonya Huynh. Houston, TX 2019. photo by Kylie Sivley. Courtesy the artist.