Thursday, March 15, 2012

Your Arty Weekend: Curatorial Pissings and Ambivalence Toward Animals at The Frist, Contemporary Art at Cheekwood, and Two Chestnut Square Openings

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 2:47 PM

  • "Anthology," Hans Schmitt-Matzen

There's a lot going on in Nashville over the next few days. We're here to help you make the most of it.

First stop: Tonight at The Frist, curator Jens Hoffmann will lecture about the state of contemporary art curation, specifically in the realm of biennials. Hoffmann curated last year's Istanbul Biennial (Nashville-based artist Vesna Pavlovic was a participant), and has a slew of other curatorial credentials under his belt. If you need a primer on biennials before tonight's lecture, there's plenty of information online about the 2012 Whitney Biennial, not to mention the New Museum's 2012 Triennial, and the upcoming 2012 Shanghai Biennial, the most recent of Hoffmann's curatorial projects.

Here's the pick I wrote for this week's Scene on the event:

The Whitney Biennial, arguably the world’s most influential contemporary art survey, is garnering heavier than usual praise this year — and that’s got just as much to do with the curatorial decisions as it does the participating artists. Roberta Smith’s review in The New York Times began, “One of the best Whitney Biennials in recent memory may or may not contain a lot more outstanding art than its predecessors, but that’s not the point.”

What does that mean? Jens Hoffmann can explain. He’s organized some of the most prestigious exhibitions in the world, most recently the 12th International Istanbul Biennial, and he’s come under fire in the past for drawing a line (or at least, helping define it) between curators who treat exhibits as if they were books in need of an author, and curators who merely catalog and distribute art. The title of this lecture is “Biennials and Curatorial Ambivalence,” and in it, Hoffman will explore standards of quality and professionalism in curatorial practice. I’m curious to hear what he has to say about Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination, the third and perhaps most exciting exhibit that curator Mark Scala has organized for The Frist.

Get EVEN ARTIER after the jump.

If you pace yourself, it's possible to spend all day art-hopping on Saturday. At 11 a.m., go to The Frist to hear Vanderbilt philosophy professor Kelly Oliver deliver a lecture called "Ambivalence Toward Animals and the Moral Community." The exhibit Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination has a lot to do with the relationship between humans and animals — at the panel discussion that coincided with the exhibition's opening, artist Kate Clark spoke about the treatment of taxidermied animals in her sculpture. I'm curious to know if her sculptures will be a topic of discussion here, especially given Clark's most recent projects, which deal with taxidermied primate bodies.

After spending your morning at The Frist, drive over to Belle Meade and check out "Anthology," a painting by Hans Schmitt-Matzen that was just installed in Cheekwood's Temporary Contemporary gallery. I'm crossing my fingers that it stays dry, because the recent heat wave — although worrisome on a grander scale — is perfect for exploring Cheekwood's excellent Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail. I'd pack a lunch and eat inside the James Turell sculpture, rain or shine.

Two art openings are scheduled for Saturday night, and they're side-by-side in the Chestnut Square building, one of the coolest old factory buildings in Nashville. Get there on the early side to make sure other gallerygoers don't hog all the free booze, but stay as late as 9 p.m. if you want. Joe wrote a pick on both events for this week's Scene, which you can read here:

Many local creative groups and individual artists have reaped the benefits of cooperative event planning, and the galleries at Chestnut Square are in the midst of creating a successful mini-scene of their own. While the space has housed artists and galleries over the years, it’s been some time since I’ve seen coordinated shows or even a plethora of regular happenings at Chestnut Square.

Seed Space has recently made some good noise with their Community Supported Art project, and tonight they’re opening Ryder Richards’ Breech: a compelling installation that anthropomorphizes the architecture of the gallery while taking aesthetic cues from the patterning on the decorative breech of a Winchester rifle.

Adding to the location’s roster of art galleries, Sara Estes and Dane Carder started banging out consistently strong exhibits of contemporary fine art at Threesquared last year. The duo’s doings have been smartly promoted through web-savvy exhibition preview videos, and tonight Threesquared opens a show by painter Patrick Brien. Brien’s geometric abstracts borrow from modern architectural forms, but it’s their humanity that strikes me. His “Cantilever” is full of panic and shame, and infused with a Guston-esque blush of oranges and whites. “Frost Haus” includes a blue element that looks like an architectural drawing of a boat or a plane. At the bottom of the painting, in black negative space, a blood red smear opened a trapdoor beneath my feet, dropping me from the airy heights of conceptual distraction back down to this brutal life we each live alone and in the dark.

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