From our friends at the Boston-based Big Red & Shiny, today we bring you Angelina Zhou‘s assessment of the most recent iteration of the Carnegie International, which is on view in Pittsburgh through March 16. Zhou notes that, “beyond the accessibility of certain works and themes… viewers find moments of dissonance that are truly quite dark, critical, and political—without being overly self-important.” This article was originally published on January 30, 2014.
The 2013 Carnegie International is neither humble nor shy. The exhibition, hosted at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, is a sharp and deliberate display of critical perspective featuring 35 artists and collectives from 19 countries. The selection is tight and deeply self-aware, the works self-involved yet hyper-conscious of their situation in an expanded context of discovery and art making.
Established in 1896, the Carnegie International is the oldest North American survey of contemporary art from around the globe, and the second oldest of its kind in the world, preceded only by the Venice Biennale of 1895. This latest International marks a pivotal moment in the exhibition’s history. Globalization has renewed a conversation around national identity and birthed an art world more saturated than ever with art fairs, festivals, and the pressure to develop a world picture of contemporary art.
“This is an anti- art fair in many ways,” explains the International’s co-curator Dan Byers. There are certainly big brand-name artists in the show, those who have drawn international attention and whose works have sold for incredible prices. But the show itself is intentionally and inherently very human. Roberta Smith in a New York Times review refers to the International as “a welcome shock to the system of one of the art world’s more entrenched rituals”—festivalism. GalleristNY deems the show “a quiet triumph.” Yet, there is nothing quiet about the International. In an ambitious act of defiance, the three co-curators, Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, and Tina Kukielski, abandon the grandeur and excess of the festival. Instead, the curators weave a lean narrative of multiplicity and dissonance that sweeps through the latter half of the 20th century to present day.