55th Carnegie International: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Churner, Rachel, Artforum International
THE CARNEGIE INTERNATIONAL is the oldest contemporary art exhibition in North America--second in age worldwide only to the Venice Biennale--so it seems apt that its fifty-fifth incarnation is ambitious in scope and duration. Not only does this year's installment, "Life on Mars," take over almost the entire square footage of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art, but it also has an unusually long run of eight months, through January 2009. Scope and duration are not virtues in themselves, however, and here they may in fact accentuate many of the problems critics regularly find with such large-scale shows, particularly as these exhibitions increasingly share an all-inclusive, globalist, and even "heterochronic" approach. Forty artists are too many for even the most intrepid viewer to fit into a comprehensive thesis; there are too many predictable names (Doug Aitken, Thomas Hirschhorn, Wolfgang Tillmans); and there are too few non-Westerners to warrant the weighty term international. The bulk of the exhibition's installation is composed of an endless succession of white cubes that--though painstakingly designed by Californian architectural firm Escher GuneWardena to reflect the Fibonacci sequence in their dimensions--create much the same impression as generic art fair booths. Finally, and most disconcertingly, the show's concept is packaged in the simplistic rhetoric of art as a magical mystery tour, with repeated references to the artists' expressive use of "humble materials" and their "transformation of everyday objects," as if either were novel (let alone ipso facto valuable). In fact, as a "metaphorical quest to explore …
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Publication information: Article title: 55th Carnegie International: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Contributors: Churner, Rachel - Author. Magazine title: Artforum International. Volume: 47. Issue: 1 Publication date: September 2008. Page number: 454+. © 1999 Artforum International Magazine, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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