Friday, April 3, 2009

The Living Exhibition

Tomorrow marks the two-month anniversary of the opening of “Artists in Dialogue.” The artists have returned to their respective homes and are hard at work on their next projects. This exhibition, however, lives on – literally. The fears Aimé asked visitors to write on cards, drop in a vendor box, and transcribe to a chalk board on the wall have multiplied. One-quarter of a way through the exhibition and the board is almost completely obscured beneath the layers of words, pictures, fears. In his hopes that we confront that which scares us, we can learn of a far range of concerns: many are scared of snakes, others the dark, or something particular – like a woman named Jillian – and still others the terrors held close to the heart, like strokes or failure. For those of you who can not make it to Washington DC to visit this exhibition, we invite you to submit your concerns to this blog. They can remain anonymous, but in making them public you – and all of us – can confront and, hopefully, overcome our fears.

Aimé has spoken repeatedly of how there are no “psy” in Congo – no psychiatrists, no psychologists, just dialogue. Only through dialogue is it possible to solve our problems.

Before I sign off, I have questions to ask of you, the quiet public who visit this exhibition and blog. We’d love to hear from you:

- Are there two artists you would like to see in dialogue in a future exhibition?

- What do you think of the format of this exhibition -- with it’s combination of extant and new work? Would you prefer just site-specific installations?

- What are some programs we should try to improve the museum’s dialogue with the public? Twitter? Facebook? Other?

- Anything else?

For those of you who are visiting the exhibition, please know that you can treat this blog as a comment book. We look forward to hearing from you. And we will write back. This is a dialogue, after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it is an amazing combination of traditional and modern. the merge of diferent generations closing the gap to express their feelings and thoughts through art.

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About the Exhibition

Artists in Dialogue: António Ole and Aimé Mpane is the first in a series of exhibitions in which two artists have been invited to create new work in response to one another. Accompanying these site specific artworks are a selection of older and more recent pieces by António Ole of Angola and Aimé Mpane, an artist who divides his time between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Belgium. Even though their works appear together for the first time, Ole and Mpane share close ties to their homelands and a connection to the human and natural environments of their native countries.

Ole has been creating and exhibiting his artwork since he was a teenager, and this selection spans his impressive 40-year career. From the crisp pop art style of his youth to his subtle and evocative assemblages and installations, Ole's work prompts viewers to consider poverty, political hypocrisy, territorialism, violence and decay. At the same time, a deep appreciation for the beauty of cast-off objects and the aesthetics of poverty underlies his works, which are on view in the United States for the first time.

Mpane, a prolific artist who is versatile in painting, prints, sculpture, video and installation, achieved international recognition in 2006. He utilizes his commanding skill with human expressions and the figure to probe the history and present state of the DRC.

This selection of established and new works provides insight into the personal visions of Ole and Mpane and how they communicate with diverse audiences. Their subject matter, use of unlikely materials and ongoing commitment to Africa resonate with one another and encourage dialogue.

About the Curator.

My photo
"I was told to describe myself as a well-dressed hipster and I only wish this were true. Despite my lack of cool, I consider myself lucky to be the coordinating curator at the National Museum of African Art. My interests include both contemporary and classical African art - and to be frank, I disagree with the notion of a great separation between the two - and I have worked in both museums and universities. I've been called an idealist because I believe that through learning about other cultures, ideas, and visions, we learn tolerance for one another - regardless of class, religion, country and the other great divides. But I also just love looking at, learning about, and being with African art and African artists. I like art in general, but it is the diversity, complexity, and richness of the works connected to the African continent that captivate and motivate me. It's the only work I've ever done, and among other great rewards, it has allowed me to travel to and on a couple of occasions live in Zambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Angola and Senegal."