The grating melodrama of newsreel audio—or its retro heroism, depending on one's previous relationship to twentieth-century propaganda—sampled and simulated in the triptych of videos encountered in the first space of Toward a Concrete Utopia, powerfully reoriented this exhibition's visitors from their reality in New York City and the atmosphere of the lobby spaces of the Museum of Modern Art. The first room was darker than those that followed in the enfilade of this salon-style survey, curated by MoMA's Martino Stierli and visiting curator Vladimir Kulić (associate professor at Iowa State University), with assistance from Anna Kats.

Those entering read some fairly straightforward and earnest curatorial promises on...

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