Envisioned years before the pandemic but debuted in the throes of it, Detroit DJ Carl Craig’s Party/After-Party turned the basement of New York’s Dia Beacon into a cavernous, empty dance club with slivers of light casting shadows across the floor. The techno-heavy work makes the jump to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, with a slate of live performances to accompany it.
Party/After-Party is the closest thing you’ll find to a late-night club plopped into a mid-day museum. Four slender columns of light in the corners moodily illuminate (and, just a heads up, occasionally strobe) the sprawling warehouse space. Massive subwoofers boom next to them, while the danciest parts of the music play out in a more focused cluster of speakers in the center of the space. Walk around the museum and you’ll hear the music muffle and come into focus as if you’re slipping in and out of a venue or weaving across a dance floor (expect to see plenty of people dancing, too).
Like an actual club, MOCA says the sound levels average 86 decibels (about the volume of a hair dryer), which puts it in the territory of permanent hearing damage from prolonged exposure. That seems very relevant to the installation: Stick around toward the end of the music loop, and after a lights-on moment that perfectly evokes that cold post-party feeling, the audio switches to a persistent ringing that mimics Craig’s tinnitus. If you’re not immediately turned off by the premise and volume of the piece, we suggest sticking through a full loop to pick up on all of the narrative elements folded into the booming bass and club beats.
Look out for a series of Party/After-Party Sessions (May 25, June 17, July 22; $15), which bring live DJ sets into the museum.