Last week to Cast Your Vote!!!

| July 11th, 2013

2MFF countdown
The third installment of the 2-Minute Film Festival at Carnegie Museum of Art is fast approaching, and with only a week left, it’s time for you to rock the vote. For the first time in the history of the festival, we are asking our friends from all stops along the Information Superhighway to help us choose the 2MFF People’s Choice. We have made all 32 videos chosen for the festival available on our website for viewing and voting by you and anyone else in the blogosphere. This year’s theme, “At Play,” inspired submissions from all over the globe that run the gamut of cinematic forms, but you only get ONE VOTE, so be sure to think long and hard before casting your ballot. Online voting will be live right up to the festival screening on Thursday, July 18 (mark your calendars!), and the video that garners the most votes will be rewarded with a fantastic selection of film-centric prizes. Vote virtually, then come actually to watch the short films on the big screen in our courtyard, with a beer and burger in hand. The clock is ticking!

To vote, and for more information on the evening’s events, visit the 2MFF website:

Tweet us your most playful 6-second Vine using the hashtag #2mff for a chance to be featured on our website!

Philip Leers, Senior Research Associate Time-Based Media Collection

Cara Erskine and Corey Escoto @ Apartment Talks

| July 2nd, 2013

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Apartment Talk #14: Cara Erskine and Corey Escoto

On May 21st we hosted enlightening talks by Pittsburgh-based artists Cara Erskine and Corey Escoto, both of whom relocated here some years ago and have since been very active in the local (as well as national) art scene. They drew a big crowd of supporters who stuck it out despite stifling heat, and even dared prolonging the proceedings with some great questions.

Cara presented her sculptures, paintings, and collages that take formal and conceptual cues from sports, pop culture, and feminism. Highlighting some of her works that examine perceptions of gender and identity, Cara discussed the public reception of sports icons like Billie Jean King, a recurring figure in her work. Cara also described the important role that construction plays in the materiality of her work and her overall artistic process, from tiny collages to large-scale paintings. Cara earned her MFA from Yale School of Art in 2002 and has exhibited at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA; Front Room, Cleveland, OH; and has had solo exhibitions at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN; and Stanford University, Stanford, CA. She has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Morris University, and her art criticism has appeared in Dis Magazine. See more of Cara’s work on her website.

Corey talked about his body of experimental, large format analog photographic works created with a recently discontinued Polaroid format. Expanding the zone of instantaneous image production, Corey constructs enigmatic spaces that compress and invert idea, image, and object. These 4×5 instant film prints are unique, multi-exposure proofs created through a process of hand-cutting and registering a series of light-blocking stencils to selectively and sequentially expose the film. As an extension of this process, his sculptures are reverse engineered objects born out of the Polaroids—reifying the cycles, grey areas, and nuances of invention and production. Corey was born in Amarillo, Texas, and his work has been included in many national and international exhibitions at venues such as the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; FRAC Nord-Pas De Calais, Dunkerque; Galerie de Kunstler, Munich; 7 Days Brunch, Basel; and Regina Rex, Queens, NY. See more of Corey’s work on his website. See also Art21’s blog, featuring a 2009 interview with Corey.



The Film Collection – On view through March 2014

| June 28th, 2013

harry smith_heaven and earth magick 1962

Still from Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth Magick, 1962

This month we opened our new and improved modern and contemporary collection galleries. The installation is a component of the 2013 Carnegie International (as is the Playground Project, which also opened this month in the Heinz Architectural Center) and highlights the major role the International has played in forming the museum’s collection. As the show has been curated by different individuals over its nearly 120 year history, and as those individuals have chosen to acquire certain things rather than others, the collection has a unique character reflective of personal tastes and interests.  Sometimes major artists were missed, but with the benefit of hindsight, the museum has continued to fill in the gaps through new acquisitions. Works that weren’t in Internationals past are included in the reinstallation as well, to create a cohesive presentation of many of our best works.

Film and video is one facet of artistic practice that showed up late on the International‘s radar, appearing for the first time in the 1985 iteration. In the meantime, the Film and Video department was doing really innovative things, bringing some of the most important filmmakers to Pittsburgh to present their work and building an outstanding collection. Rethinking the collection galleries has given us the opportunity to make room for this frequently overlooked segment of our holdings (and history), so we’ve built an elegant new “black box” space in gallery 14.  Over the course of the next 8 months–through the run of the International– this gallery will be home to a roughly chronological, rotating program of works by 11 major artists (see the full upcoming schedule after the jump). Most of the films that will be on view were acquired during the Film and Video department’s first ten years (1970-1980), and some were presented in person by the filmmaker.

First up: Harry Smith‘s Heaven and Earth Magick (1962), a surreal collage film composed from Victorian-era catalogues and exercise manuals that Smith produced over a period of five years using a randomizing selection process called sortilege, inspired by the Surrealist practice of automatic writing.  Smith adopted a strategic regimen of sleep deprivation, working to the point of exhaustion and then transferring his dreams to film upon waking. The resulting animation revolves around a male magus character who, after injecting a female figure with magic potion, finds she has disintegrated and must be reassembled.

Heaven and Earth Magic includes references to the Kabbalah, 19th-century philology, and the writings of Dr. Wilder Penfield on open-brain surgery and the concept of the Homunculus, evincing Smith’s nearly encyclopedic knowledge of esoterica and mysticism. The artist was an avid collector of everything from pop-up books and forgotten folk records (he famously compiled the Anthology of American Folk Music, released in 1952) to Native American costumes, string figures, and Fabergé eggs. His interest in ethnic artifacts and everyday ephemera, as well as obscure forms of knowledge and the occult, was rooted in a search for universality underlying the diversity of human endeavor.

Stop by and see the film before July 8th, when we’ll switch it out for a compilation of Kenneth Anger‘s early work.

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See you at MOCA Cleveland this Friday!

| June 26th, 2013


Dark Stars_for Blog


If you happen to be in the Cleveland area this weekend, you have to check out MOCA Cleveland!

Since its reopening last year, with a sharply elegant new building designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, the museum of contemporary art has hit the ground running. Artist commissions such as David Altmejd’s sprawling vitrine installation The Orbit, and Kate Gilmore’s new sculptural installation and video Love ‘em, Leave ‘em are particular highlights of MOCA’s “investment in producing new projects with artists, new artwork and new culture,” to quote chief curator David Norr.

Another refreshing aspect of the museum’s programs are the thoughtful group shows through which the curatorial team have been able to explore current tendencies and preoccupations of contemporary art practice. Assistant curator Rose Bouthillier’s current exhibition Dark Stars  is a tightly composed and deeply intelligent instance of this. Bouthillier details the focus of the exhibition in her curatorial statement: “Dark Stars considers time as a subject in contemporary art, exploring how objects and images bring the past into the present. The exhibition’s title refers to the phenomenon of a dead star’s light continuing to travel through space, appearing to remote viewers long after it has gone dark. Works by Carol Bove, Michael Byron, Annie MacDonell, R.H. Quaytman, and Cerith Wyn Evans convey a similar sense of duration and delay.”

A highlight of the exhibition is Canadian artist Annie MacDonell’s The Shape of Time, Revisited (2012) in which she restores the wooden hand of an antique fortune telling mannequin while meditating on George Kubler’s 1962 text The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things. “However fragmentary its condition,” intones MacDonell in the video aspect of her project, “any work of art is actually a portion of arrested happening, or an emanation of past time. It is a graph of activity now stilled, but a graph made visible like an astronomical body, by a light that originated with activity…” Dark Stars is an example of the way in which an inspired curatorial theme can invigorate a single work, elucidate its connection to other seemingly disparate practices, and create spaces for dialogue with a broader discourse. Bouthillier has a marvelous way of making it seem as simple as that.

This weekend marks the opening of another exciting group exhibition, Realization is Better than Anticipation, co-curated by Bouthillier and Megan Lykins Reich, director of programs and associate curator. Regionally focused, with emerging and established artists in and around Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, this exhibition promises to be an exuberant consideration of art-making, or as Bouthillier and Lykins Reich put it: “‘realization’ is taken as equal parts practical (doing, constructing) and alchemical (magical, transformative).”

The opening party (featuring cocktails, live music, and performances) is this Friday June 28th, 7–10 p.m. See you there!


Hell with the Lid Off

| June 14th, 2013

Munhall Blog Gabi

Walking through the hallway at Carnegie Museum of Art, my eyes detected the familiar two letters of DU [“You”] for the renowned Swiss Art magazine founded in 1941. It was the February 1983 issue dedicated to Pittsburgh (!). Edgar Munhall, born and raised in Pittsburgh and later curator of the Frick Collection in New York (1965–2000) contributed the opening essay. Unimpressed by the devastating descriptions of poets and intellectuals, he portrays the steel city in a surprisingly positive way. Munhall had left Pittsburgh for New York in 1951, then 17 years old.

“The city I was leaving did not have a very good reputation. As one of the greatest industrial centers of the word it had been described by Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936, American journalist) in 1905 as ‘Hell with the lid off.’ A few years later [sic] Herbert Spencer (1820–1903, English philosopher) opined that, ‘A month in Pittsburgh would justify anyone in committing suicide,’ and, on her deathbed in 1924 Eleonora Duse (1858–1924, Italian actress) was said to have exclaimed, ‘Oh, my God, I am dying in Pittsburgh!’ The short-story-writer O. Henry (1862–1910, American) called the city ‘the low-down-est hole in the surface of the earth.'”

Unlike them, Munhall expresses the true love for his hometown: “Growing up in such a maligned environment had left me with totally different feelings, for I had always thought that Pittsburgh possessed a magical and unique beauty, sinister and awesome. Even before I had found artistic parallels in Whistler’s views of London to justify my cause, I had thrilled to the experience of walking to school unable to see through the smoky fog more than three feet in front me.”

Gabriela Burkhalter is the guest curator of The Playground Project.