Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pittsburgh - Carnegie International 2013/2014

Pedro Reyes - Disarm

At first I have to apologize that this comes so late - weeks after my return from Pittsburgh - but the full Christmas season stress at work set in as every year and time for blogging is very short. I still definitely wanted to do this posting, because I LOVED my day at the Carnegie Museum of Art.  

This is also a perfect example how I knock out all the people who raise an eyebrow every time I pack my suitcase for Pittsburgh and ask: "Again? Isn't that BORING?"  or "You must have seen it all like ten times already. What the hell are you doing there?" At first it is never boring, because Pittsburgh is beautiful and the time I can spend with my friends there is short and precious. Also: NO, I did not see it all yet. I still don't! There is enough to do in this city for many, many visits and it indeed was my 5th trip before I FINALLY made to the CMOA.

My timing could not have been better because I was right in town for the 2013/2014 Carnegie International (It ends not before March 16 2014 - so if you have a chance, go!).
The Carnegie International is the oldest exhibition of international contemporary art on North American grounds and was established in 1896 by the industrialist and philantropist Andrew Carnegie. Learn more about the history of the exhibition here.

I am personally a big fan of modern and contemporary art. While I of course neither like nor understand it all, I get REALLY excited when I run into stuff I like, because it usually touches me deeply. To go out and see new stuff in Pittsburgh is also extra fun because anyway if you are at the Warhol Museum, the wonderful Mattress Factory or at CMOA - everywhere is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and enough space for you to let the impressions sink in. That probably is like this because the love for art has such a strong tradition in this city and is just part of regular life.

Documenting my visit was a bit complicated because some pieces you are allowed to photograph and some - on wish of the artist - not, but I think I managed to keep it clean although sometimes art with photo approval was hanging right next to other with none. 

Except for the first room, where I think some pieces were lacking space I loved how the art was presented in the building. Those two were some of my favorites: 

Joel Sternfeld's extended photo series "Sweet Earth - Experimental Utopias in America" had a perfect space on the gallery.

Right below you could find one of my absolute favorites - the Mexican artist's Pedro Reyes "Disarm" installation. You can also see a piece of it at the top of this post.

These are all self-playing instruments created from weapons. As you can imagine as the massive music lover I am, I find the idea to turn death bringing guns and other weapons into music instruments is right down my alley. I loved it and even the sound was okay. Too often installations with sound are nerv wrecking (the one I just saw the Fotografiska in Stockholm still gives me a migrane just thinking of it), but this one was quite nice and interesting. 

But it still gets better. I was almost ready to leave when I figured that I had left out a part of the building and this is where I found the amazing pieces of Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović. Funny enough even before I read the name of the artist next to his work or had seen the backside of installation with the Bag-People which is sporting pages out oft the Jutarnji List I was immediatly clear that this was the work of an artist coming from the former Yugoslavia. The "language" in his pieces was just so familiar. 

Mladen Stilinović - Artist at work

My highlight was the "Pain Dictionary" - all pages of an over 500 pages English dictionary ripped out and all definition of terms painted over and replaced by the hand written word "Pain". That sounds devasting and in a way it is, but it is also very thought provoking. I randomly stopped in front of a page when I was walking along and it was a "g" page. The word "growth" and the unavoidable "Pain" next to it burned itself straight into my memory. I mean ... how can you be more right? It is worth it but personal growth is with no doubt strongly connected to all kinds of pain. I spent a lot of  time with Mladen Stilinović's artwork and it is exactly why I love exploring exhibitions like this - they GET you when you last expect it.

Mladen Stilinović - Pain Dictionary

Mladen Stilinović - Pain Dictionary

Another wonderous place with in the museum is the Hall of Architecture. Especially for me as a European it is weird to look at these giant replica of whole church portals and other big structures. I did not really get why you would put this really wild combination of huge "things" into a room, when I found the explanation that was given by the museum: Andrew Carnegie decided to have the Hall of Architecture because the majority of Pittsburgh's citizens would never have the chance to travel to Europe and other far off places to see this with their own eyes. So he decided to build this to give people a chance to at least experience bits of it right there at home. That again makes A LOT of sense to me although it still looks strange. 

The next piece from the Hall of Architecture I had to picture because the dog reminded me so much Gabrijela's Whippets. So exactly at this point I especially thought of my dear friend who could this time not travel to Pittsburgh together with me.

Finally I of course took a small walk over to the dinosaurs, too:

This was my favorite. It is called megaloceros giganteus

Thank you Andy (and the other Andy for the painting) for the great day and sorry for the bad pic. I could not  make the reflections go away - to many sources of artifical light around in the museum shop. 

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