by Lerato Dumse
On Friday 4th of October 2013, Carnegie Museum of Art opened the biggest event in their annual calendar, 2013 Carnegie International. The place is situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States of America (USA).
The exhibition features 35 different artists from six continents and 19 countries including Poland, USA, Vietnam, Iran, China, Brazil, India, England, Israel, Mexico, Colombia, Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Switzerland.
The only artist representing the African continent is South African (SA) visual activist Zanele Muholi. She is exhibiting Faces & Phases, black and white portraits of Black lesbians and Trans(wo)men from SA and beyond, which has been well received at this exhibition.
A commissioned film by Puma screened as part of World Peace Day on the 21st Sept. 2013 will form part of her presentation.
The event opening drew an estimated two thousand art lovers from around the world.
Beautiful botox(ed) faces confused me, as I couldn’t figure out who was young and old.
Scent of durable perfumes filled the air.
Exquisite fashion clothing was the order of the night considering the fact that most attendees were art collectors, gallery owners, curators and wannabee art curators.
Bars with expensive alcohol kept drinkers longing for more.
By the end of the night walking on high heel shoes proved to be a challenge for some, let alone those who had frequented the bars…
Tasty food left many salivating though I did not enjoy because of my love for South African traditional cuisine. All in all, that presented a sense of finery without flaws.
Less than 10 percent of those attending were black.
Attending such an event means digging deep into your pockets, admission fee was $425 (R4250) which according to the website bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm..is a little more than what the average American earns monthly.
When you approach the museum’s entrance, you are immediately greeted by a large sculpture by Phyllida Barlow from England. The colourful work, placed outside the museum is sculpted with wooden poles and colourful flags.
Then there is Dinh Q Le whose project is titled Light and belief. He displays sketches of life from the Vietnam War (2012) produced by men and women in the war. Artist-soldiers who served in the front lines, contributed the hundred paintings and drawings.
Founded in 2007 in Pennsylvania USA, Transformazium is a collective working in partnership with the Braddock Carnegie Library. They have created an Art Lending Collection (ALC) in an effort to make art accessible to everyone. An Allegheny County library card means you can borrow the art and also borrow a pass to the museum.
Some of the artists’ works are realities from other countries but resonate with past and present day South Africa.
Yael Bartana a filmmaker from Israel who uses documentary and propaganda films to “investigate issues of identity and belonging, occupation and dispossession.” Showing at the exhibition is her two weeks project Summer Camp (2007).
It’s about the Israel Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD) and their annual display of civil disobedience, where a group of volunteers rebuilds the home of a Palestinian family, destroyed by the Israeli authorities.
From Iran, Kamran Shirdel worked for the government sponsored Ministry of Culture and Art.
Over the decades “his work has been blacklisted, his films banned, censored and confiscated- ironically in some instances by the same parties that commissioned them.
Shirdel’s story makes you think of the hotly debated Protection of State Information Bill.
The 56th edition of the exhibition will run from the 5th October 2013 – 16th March 2014 and is said to be the longest running survey of contemporary art at any museum.
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