Cary Loren

Cary-Loren---Credit-Sue-Rynski ABOUT THE ARTIST

Cary Loren (born 1955 in Detroit) is an artist, musician and writer. In 1973 he apprenticed with New York City performance artist and filmmaker Jack Smith, and was a founding member of the Destroy All Monsters collective. His work has been shown at the Whitney Biennial of American Art in 2002; Printed Matter and Performa in New York City, 2009; the American Academy in Rome, 2010; the Luff Festival, 2012 in Lausanne, Switzerland; Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, 2014; Dlectricity Festival in Detroit, 2014, and in What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art 1960 to the Present at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island in 2014. His work is in the permanent collection of the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. He is co-owner of the Book Beat bookstore in Oak Park, Michigan, since 1982.

To see more work by Cary Loren, visit

Top Right Photo Credit: Sue Rynski

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Presented as part of the Art X Detroit 2015 Visual Arts Exhibition, Boofland Babylon is a multi-media installation and collaboration between Cary Loren and Michael Zadorian, and is based on a photograph of Zadoorian’s childhood in which he met many local Detroit children’s TV hosts on a float during the Hudson’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1963.

A large “altar piece” of pop-culture memories will be created in a triptych of hanging banners. Norman Zadoorian’s Thanksgiving Day photograph will be the central banner, flanked by two photographic collage banners made by Loren that overlap and mash-up memories of Detroit and pop-culture from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Underneath the banners is a life-sized sculpture on stage, loosely organized and inspired by the album cover art made by artist Peter Blake for the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. Stand up figures, inspirational objects and a monitor showing a short film will be contained on the stage. Two vitrines nearby will contain additional archives from Loren and Zadoorian.

On display will also be a small retrospective of rarely seen photographs by Norman Zadoorian (Michael Zadoorian’s father), who was a professional photographer working in Detroit mid-century. These photographs offer a rare view of Detroit, giving a historic and foundational element to the project—as well as being a deeply personal connection.

In this new installation, Loren and Zadoorian explore autobiographic material thematically connected to their youth, pop-culture and Detroit History. During weekly meetings and self-interviews, they’ve collected stories, experiences and objects reflected in the display, which will also be presented in a small pamphlet to be given away at the event.

Boofland Babylon is about time, memory, humor, symbolism and a very specific regional history of Detroit. It is both autobiographical and operates in a larger social arena; it covers experience and culture commonly felt and witnessed by baby boomers who grew up during the ‘50s and ‘60s in Detroit.

The Boofland Babylon booklet is available for free upon request in MOCAD’s store. Download it here. To view a video of the installation, click here.


The archive serves a serious function both inspirational and didactic, whether used in writing, artwork, music, filmmaking, or when making a metaphoric model of history. Artifacts, ephemera and photography help open the mind and imagination to new worlds. The archive is a form of time travel, a utopian doorway from the past, made into an outline for artistic use.

Norman Zadoorian’s photography is Detroit mid-century, the homeland. His Thanksgiving Day parade float photograph of his 6-year-old son Michael standing next to local children’s TV hosts was the beginning inspiration for Boofland Babylon, and is connected to many other threads in the exhibit concentrated in the decades of the 1950s to the 1970s.

Collaborating with Michael Zadoorian seemed natural, as Detroit was a central subject in both our works, and we both shared thrift-store aesthetics, and an interest in island exotica. This subjective and personal experience of the past, is also a collective one; a multi-leveled approach not only time based (through photography, film and collage), it is also about space—as a sculpture and physical representation of Detroit culture. Finally it is also a nostalgic display; a dream of the past—not how it was, but how we think of it.

In organizing the work, I’ve loosely followed principles of sacred geometry and the writings of Rudolph Steiner. Boofland Babylon illustrates the interconnection between life and art, revealed as an unfinished puzzle; an imaginary landscape, memory project or epic collage, which helps reveal our relationships to nature, family, community, the past, the sacred and whatever is inspirational and beautiful—the principles that give life meaning.