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Frantz Zéphirin, The Slave Ship Brooks (detail), 2007

Vodou Surrealism

In September 2016, I hosted Ingrid Schaffner and Bisi Silva to show them my collection of Haitian art and to discuss their imminent trip to the Caribbean in preparation for the Carnegie Int’l, 57th ed., 2018. Early in our visit they asked how I had become a collector of the island nation’s vodou-based Surrealist art. I led them to a small painting in my living room and told them about a fateful encounter.

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Film and Video

Reconstructing Buky Schwartz’s ‘The Big Video Chair’

Museums face unique hurdles in collecting, preserving, and exhibiting time-based media. This broad term—time-based media—refers to film, video, audio, digital, and computer-based art that entails a temporal duration and depends on changing technology. Unstable by nature, these works don’t exist until assembled for display.

Carnegie International

From Travelogue to Typologue: The Identity of Carnegie Int’l, 57th ed., 2018

Heads up, savvy scanners, here are three words to track: Truss, Fuss, and Catenary. This triumvirate of terms, coined by curator Ingrid Schaffner and derived from engineering structures, is shaping the identity and communications of the Carnegie Int'l, 57th ed., 2018. As you may know, Pittsburgh is a city of bridges and impressive infrastructures that range in appearance from industrial to ornamental, which explains the Truss and the Fuss.

Envisioning Appalachia

American Dream Sequence: Left Behind in the Monongahela River Valley

In his painting The Monongahela River Valley, Pennsylvania, the Scottish-born, self-taught John Kane offers an ode to the ever-growing industrialization in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh. Painted in 1931, and now part of the collection at The Met, the landscape that Kane captured borders on pastoral. In the foreground, white fog tumbles from smokestacks set against perfect blue skies, while copper-hued factories rise from the banks on either side of the river as if extensions of the soil itself.

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Film and Video

Bored in Pittsburgh: The Obscure Film That Immortalized 1980s Punk

Debt Begins at Twenty by Stephanie Beroes documents a defining moment of the punk music scene that flourished in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Pittsburgh. Dating from 1980, the film is pitch-perfect and has aged incredibly well. It is unusual for any film to survive the culture of immediacy we live in, and as a look back at what was and who we were, this film offers many insights and much delight.

Hillman Photography Initiative

Decoding the Black Bodies and Black Spaces of the Hill District

In REkOGNIZE, Harris’s photography is the catalyst for both image and sound. On one channel of the installation, parts of the unearthed code create a representation of the numeric layers beneath the images that establish their essence. As Harris’s photographs flash on screen, code scrolls across the faces of men, women, and children from the Hill District, their expressions veiled by alphanumeric masks. Behind their bodies numbers drop in rapid descent, conjuring a sense of disintegration. And within their bodies the code consumes them, cutting a silhouette both familiar and foreign. “I’m trying to crack the code,” Young explains.