Category Archives: Carnegie International

Free to the People


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The Art Lending Collection at Braddock Carnegie Library; Photo: Greenhouse Media

If you’re like me, by now you’re probably sick of all the heated art auction coverage, which makes it seem like contemporary art is out of reach for anybody but a zillionaire. (Just another way to suggest that art = elitist.) The perfect antidote is the Art Lending Collection at Braddock Carnegie Library, a joint initiative of the inspiring artist collective Transformazium and the Braddock Carnegie Library Association, and a complement to the 2013 Carnegie International. Right now, I have two wonderful works by International artists Lara Favaretto and Erika Verzutti in my home (see below). In fact, I’m in my second rotation of art from the ALC, having just returned a charming little work by Mladen Stilinović. All you need is an Allegheny County Library card, and you can take the works home for free for three weeks!

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Works from the Art Lending Collection; (L): Works by Lara Favaretto (wall) and Erika Verzutti (table); (R): Work by Mladen Stilinonvić

I’m lucky enough to work in a museum, so I get to see a lot of great art up close, but having art in your own home is a completely different experience, because it becomes embedded in your everyday life. And I have to admit it, I love touching the little pieces of Verzutti’s enigmatic sculpture—just because I can! The Art Lending Collection is a great place to hang out, too—good conversation and a lots to see, both art and books. I highly recommend it—just don’t take the sketch by Tezuka Architects, because I want to borrow it next.

Learn more about Braddock Carnegie Library.

Maureen Rolla, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, from a Bike


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“A city always contains more than any inhabitant can know, and a great city always makes the unknown and the possible spurs to the imagination.”—Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust, A History of Walking

“Nice!”—Randy Gilson

The best way to see Pittsburgh is by bike. And the absolute best way to see Pittsburgh’s public art is also by bike, in a decently sized (chatty) group and led by the curators of the 2013 Carnegie International (Thanks Tina and Daniel!). Luckily BikePGH, the ride organizer, picked a beautiful Saturday in November to ride 18 miles through the city’s parks, along its riverfronts, and through several neighborhoods starting in Oakland and ending in Millvale. The group, comprised of BikePGH members, met at the Carnegie Museum of Art, next to Phyllida Barlow’s TIP.

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Our first stop was on the Carnegie Mellon University to see Mel Bochner’s (CMU alum) and Michael Van Valkenburgh’s Kraus Campo garden. The conceptual piece nestled between the University’s fine arts and business buildings incorporates text, architecture, and landscape architecture into an interactive experience.

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Learn more about Pittsburgh public art and venues at Pittsburgh Art Places.
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Descending through Schenley Park, across the Hot Metal Bridge and traveling downstream along the South Side Trail, the group arrived at The Workers, the Industrial Arts Cooperative’s tribute to Pittsburgh’s industrial pedigree.

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Downtown Pittsburgh was the site of our next two stops. Scott Burton’s Chairs for Six sit in the plaza of the BNY Mellon Center. Across town in the Cultural District, Katz Plaza hosts a collaboration featuring Louise Bourgeois, Daniel Urban Kiley, and Michael Graves.

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A quick trip over the Andy Warhol Bridge led the group into the central North Side neighborhood to Randyland, where we were met by the gregarious Randy Gilson. Gilson regaled the group with his background and artistic philosophy—“I don’t know how to paint, but I paint! Nice!”

The ride’s final destination was St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Parish to view the Maxo Vanka murals. The murals extend far beyond the typical Roman Catholic iconography. A few years ago, I had read about the Vanka murals in David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries: “More unusual for a church are the political and antiwar aspects of the murals that echo the crucifixion—widows mourn over a soldier in a coffin containing a bleeding corpse, and crosses cover the hillside behind them. Another wall depicts corrupt justice: a figure in a gas mask holds scales on which the gold outweighs bread. Clearly World War I had a big effect on Maxo.”

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As I said earlier, there is no better way to see a city and its public art than biking, and Pittsburgh is taking great strides in becoming a world-class biking community. Currently there are over 20 miles of riverfront trails along the Monongahela River, Allegheny River, and mighty Ohio River. Over the past several years, the city has added over 70 miles of on-street facilities that connect cyclists to the many vibrant business districts scattered throughout the city. With the development of BikePGH’s Better Bikeways Vision and the city’s MOVEPGH (transportation plan), cyclists can expect bigger and better toys within the next few years.

bikegifWith that said, 2014 is expected to be a watershed year for the city’s biking community as Pittsburgh launches a bike share system and hosts Pro Walk/Pro Bike 2014, one of the pre-eminent active transportation conferences in the world. The bike share system will introduce 500 rentable bicycles onto Pittsburgh’s streets, providing cheap, convenient, and fun transportation for short trips. Pro Walk/Pro Bike will bring over 1,000 active transportation advocates, engineers, architects, planners, elected officials, and vendors to Downtown Pittsburgh in September 2014.  It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase Pittsburgh’s improvements and learn from the global leaders in urban transportation design. Learn more about the Pro Walk/Pro Bike 2014 conference.

Stephen Patchan, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, City of Pittsburgh

Art of the Projector


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Rodney Graham, installation view of The Green Cinematograph (Programme I: Pipe smoker and overflowing sink), 2010, 16mm film; color, silent; custom film projector with looper, bench, 5:35 min.; Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London © Carnegie Museum of Art

As a film and video archivist, I’m excited to see the amount of moving image work being exhibited at the Carnegie right now. It’s all over the place: projected on floors and projected on doors, shown on a screen or a TV monitor machine, to state it in rhyming couplet form. Thanks to the 2013 Carnegie International and the reinstallation of the Scaife galleries—and to the hard work of assistant curator Amanda Donnan and the rest of the contemporary art department—you can scarcely turn your head without seeing some manifestation of what we in the biz call time-based media. But beyond the artworks on display, I’ve been fascinated to see so many examples of the cinematic apparatus being revealed, if not highlighted, in the installation of those works. The most obvious case in point is Rodney Graham’s The Green Cinematograph (Programme I: Pipe smoker and overflowing sink) (2010), probably my favorite single piece in the International, a 16mm film that cuts between a shots of Graham smoking a pipe and a sink overflowing with soap bubbles. More specifically, it’s a 16mm film that passes through a stunning, custom-built projector with a massive looper made of transparent green Lucite, into which the film cascades, creating a swirling tableau that recalls the hypnotic liquid light shows projected behind psychedelic rock concerts in the 1960s and 70s, or the lava lamps that brought that psychedelia into our very homes. There’s also certainly a resonance between the flow of the spent film strip and the bubbles projected on screen, but if you end up watching the looper and ignoring the screen altogether, that’s cool too.

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Joachim Koester, installation view of Tarantism, 2007, 16mm film; black and white, silent; 6:31 min.; A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund © Carnegie Museum of Art

The whirring of the projector is a near-omnipresent sound in the contemporary galleries. In the Scaife film room, Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight* (1963) plays, the only soundtrack the opening and closing of the projector’s shutter. The 16mm film, actually made by pressing small bits of detritus between two strips of splicing tape, inevitably draws your attention from the projected image to the physical object and the mechanism of the projector. The same can be said of Tarantism (2007), by Joachim Koester, another silent, 16mm film, in which the spastic dancing of the performers clashes with the uniformity of the projector’s moving parts. As the film passes again and again through the looper, the apparatus takes on an ominous quality, forcing the dancers through a perpetual cycle of frenzied convulsions.

*Note: Between the writing and publication of this post, Mothlight was deinstalled, but the 16mm projector is still hard at work in the Scaife film room. The current film is Robert Nelson’s Oh Dem Watermelons (1965), a frenetic and positively Gallagher-like assault on the eponymous fruit.  A full schedule of experimental films can be found here.
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Mark Leckey, installation view of Made in ‘Eaven, 2004, 16mm film; color, silent; 3 min.; looped 20 min.; Courtesy of the artist; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne; and Cabinet Gallery, London © Carnegie Museum of Art

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Mark Leckey, installation view of Made in ‘Eaven, 2004, 16mm film; color, silent; 3 min.; looped 20 min.; Courtesy of the artist; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne; and Cabinet Gallery, London © Carnegie Museum of Art

The fourth and final film projector/looper can be found among the gems in the Wertz Gallery of the Museum of National History. In fact, as you enter the room, the only thing you see is the projector, sitting on a tall pedestal and pointing outside the room, down an adjoining corridor. Coming into line with the projector, you glimpse the screen, on which plays Mark Leckey’s Made in ’Eaven (2004). The fact that the two elements of the piece, the projector and the screen, inhabit different spaces underscores the unsettling tension of the film, between the physical fact of the analog media, and the impossible picture it captures, a probing pan around Jeff Koons’s mirrored bunny that could only have been accomplished through digital manipulation. As an analog type of fella, I found myself backing away from the uncanny image, toward the comforting hum of the projector.

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If you’re interested in learning more about archiving and exhibiting moving image works in a museum, register for Carnegie Museum of Art’s symposium A Collection of Misfits: Time-Based Media and the Museum, taking place Nov. 21–23, 2013. The Misfits symposium will bring archivists, artists, curators, and conservators from institutions around the world to discuss case studies, pressing issues, and the future of the field. For more information, visit our website: www.cmoa.org/misfits.
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Tony Oursler, installation view of (Telling) Vision #3, 1994, video projector, VCR, video, tripod, light stand, cloth; Second Century Acquisition Fund and Oxford Development Fund © Carnegie Museum of Art

This focus on the apparatus isn’t restricted to film work, either. In Tony Oursler’s video installation (Telling) Vision #3 (1994), a video projector angled atop a tripod figures significantly, simultaneously giving a face and a voice to the brown-suited scarecrow (also propped up on a tripod) and gazing curiously up at the bizarre character. A closed-circuit security camera and monitor provide a live mirror for the Thinker to contemplate in Nam June Paik’s TV Rodin (1976-1978).

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Nam June Paik, installation view of TV Rodin, 1976–1978, plaster, video camera, tripod, monitor, pedestal; A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund © Carnegie Museum of Art

In all of these cases, the “audiovisual equipment” usually hidden in museum exhibition is brought to the fore, becoming vital elements of the work. It is a good rule of thumb when looking at moving image work to think about how the images are produced and transmitted; these processes are essential to the artists and should inform how we consume the work. The film and video on view at the Carnegie press the issue by laying bare the cinematic apparatus, and acknowledging it as an intrinsic component of the art object.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Pittsburgh & Elsewhere


If you have the good fortune to visit the southern Japanese island of Naoshima—one of the six sites in our current exhibition at the Heinz Architectural Center, White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapesbe sure to look for several works by the Japanese-born, New York-based artist, Hiroshi Sugimoto. You may already know his work from the cover of the last U2 album, No Line on the Horizon, with its segmented photograph of ocean and sky.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto, detail of Time Exposed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small village on Naoshima, Sugimoto has restored an Edo-period shrine and inserted a staircase of “optical glass” that descends to an underground stone chamber. It has that special Japanese quality of combining, simultaneously, the traditional and the modern. In common with his photographs, there is a division between an upper and a lower half. Sugimoto has more work at Park, one of several buildings on Naoshima by the great Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Like other Ando interventions, Park functions as a hotel or lodge in which you are surrounded by works of art.

Sugimoto has also installed more than a dozen images of sea and sky outdoors on the island, gelatin silver prints set in sealed acrylic boxes. Titled Time Exposed (1980–97), several of these are placed on exterior concrete walls at Benesse House, an early building by Ando, where they line up to either side of a slot of space that offers a prospect of real sea and sky. Others are found, as if by chance, out in the landscape, on rocks overlooking the sea. I love the sense of discovery when one of these artworks is encountered all by itself in the natural world.

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From the 1991 Carnegie International, Hiroshi Sugimoto, detail of Time Exposed, 1991, silver gelatin prints, wall, and water, each photograph 20 x 24 in.; Photo courtesy of the artist

Sugimoto is drawn to the effect of sunlight, moisture and temperature on these photographic works. He seems to be interested in not divorcing or protecting them entirely from nature. It was then a very nice surprise to read that Sugimoto first experimented with situating photographs outdoors here in Pittsburgh when, for the Carnegie International in 1991, he sited twenty-five works out in the museum’s Sculpture Court. Some were even placed inside the fountain, behind the flow of water which was allowed to freeze that winter.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto, Irish Sea, Isle of Man (#337), 1990, gelatin silver print in sealed plastic frame; Purchase: gift of Milton Fine

Photographs such as these are typically printed in editions. We checked the list of works on view on Naoshima today against the works acquired by the Carnegie Museum in the early 1990s. There were two matches; that’s to say, two of the photographs in our collection are also in the collection on Naoshima. One of these is Irish Sea, Isle of Man I (#337), a prospect not far from the home of U2’s Bono in Dublin. We decided to include it in the exhibition. You may perhaps imagine yourself halfway around the world, in Ireland or on a distant Japanese island.