Carnegie International is beautiful, unsettling and strange

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“The Carnegie International 2013” is an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art that hosts pieces by 35 artists from around the world. Three curators – Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski – hand-picked the pieces displayed. Think of it as a highlight reel for art.


Most of the pieces are located in the art museum, but some can be found in other places throughout the building. In the Hall of Sculpture, the floor is occupied by a large self-playing instrument made out of reclaimed guns. Though the music it creates is completely activated by a computer and timer, it is beautiful in its own way. In the same room, there also is a small library with books whose themes represent the stereotyping surrounding the Middle East. Visitors are encouraged to take books off of the shelves and look at them. On the upper level of this room, in addition to the normal sculptures, there are plaster sculptures doing things like texting and hiking, creating a nice contrast between traditional and contemporary art. The same artist who made these sculptures, Nicole Eisenman, also has her paintings displayed along the walls.


Many of the pieces in the other rooms of the museum depict the suffering of minorities through sculptures, paintings and photographs. There are several sculptures of women’s figures made out of pantyhose, which symbolize the objectification of women.


Some pieces in the exhibit, however, are not so easy to understand. At the top of the stairs that lead from the gift shop to the art museum, a short video plays on repeat, featuring a man playing a drum and then playing the drum nude while strange music plays in the background. I understand that art can be interpreted in many ways, but I don’t see why this piece was created. It’s more unsettling than provocative, unlike the other pieces. Outside of the building, visible from Forbes Avenue, there is a … thing. I still have no idea what it is, and it is difficult to describe, but it involves giant wooden bars draped with colored wool. Since it is exposed to the elements, it will change over time.


There are so many things to see, it may be best to take a free hour tour with a guide. These tours, which are offered daily from 1:30-2:30 p.m., will give you a better understanding of what the art is and what it means. Tours meet outside of the gift shop and reservations are not necessary. I believe that it is good to also return another time and go at your own pace. This way, you can take in all of the art without being rushed along on a schedule. The exhibition is so large, it can’t be experienced quickly. It will continue to be hosted until March 16, so you have plenty of time to experience the beautiful, unsettling and strange art featured by the Carnegie International.


Jeremy Farbman is a freshman at Mt. Lebanon High School.


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Published Dec 4, 2013 at 5:57 am (Updated Dec 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm)

Carnegie International is beautiful, unsettling and strange

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