On view in the lower level of the MCA right now is a clever show about architecture and design by Derrick Velasquez that’s just a giant picture frame, photos of fences, and a poorly designed and organized desk. Those are the elements of “Obstructed View,” a show that gets in the way of itself, but then again maybe that’s the point. To the casual viewer strolling the museum’s current offerings — impressive collections from painter Jenny Morgan and photographer Ryan McGinley, respectively — Velasquez’s offerings come off as understated, even with that massive gold crown molding. It’s a vulgar display that ends up framing the ambling viewers below in a way that promises irreverent spectacle, but falls flat in that regard. A photo series depicting “new Denver” versus “old Denver” property boundaries line the walls as a somewhat pedestrian offering, but they work well enough on their own to show the glaring disparities we see as the city grows (up, specifically). (So many Instagram accounts, however, do the same.) Zig-zagging along the opposite side of the space, however, is a maze of modern-looking wooden desks called “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” and it’s the unassuming centerpiece of the show. Riddled with visual and physical obstructions and covered in curious objects that make reference to building design, the modular sculpture encourages searching and viewing from different angles — in all, a more nuanced interactive experience compared to the show’s more jarring contrasts. It’s easy to walk away from Velasquez’s show feeling unimpressed, and yet it stays with you. The elements of “Obstructed View” start assembling into this odd structure that’s ambivalent, confounding, frustrating, but honest, and reasserts the idea that what the fantastic future holds is just a plain mystery.
Derrick Velasquez’s “Obstructed View” is on view through August 27. For more information, please visit mcadenver.org