CMOA presents 2013 Carnegie International

Rokni Haerizadeh’s “Reign of Winter” is one of many pieces displayed throughout the Carnegie Museum of Art as part of the Carnegie International exhibition. (credit: Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art) Rokni Haerizadeh’s “Reign of Winter” is one of many pieces displayed throughout the Carnegie Museum of Art as part of the Carnegie International exhibition. (credit: Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art)

As you approach the Carnegie Museum of Art, one of the first things you’ll notice is what appears to be a gathering of brown sticks draped in brightly colored paper.

This attraction welcomes visitors to Carnegie International the Carnegie Museum of Art’s newest exhibition, featuring 35 artists from 19 different countries. In addition to bringing world cultures to Pittsburgh, the Carnegie International exhibition brings new perspectives to both history and moments in everyday life.

The exhibition premiered Friday night with a private gala and continued throughout the opening weekend with other festivities, including performances from the artists themselves. Scattered throughout the museum are pieces labeled “2013 Carnegie International,” indicating their introduction to the museum this year. In addition, some pieces are making reappearances from past Carnegie International exhibitions. Though this event may not be very organized, the culture brought by the pieces at this exhibition makes the visit worthwhile.

The first installation in the Carnegie International is a large sign, introducing the 35 artists who are part of the exhibition. Upstairs, another sign indicates that parts of the exhibition are located in the Scaife Galleries. This area, currently being celebrated for its recent renovation, displays modern pieces that highlight events from both present and past and put them in a new light. Particularly eye-catching is the work from Croatian conceptual artist Mladen Stilinovic.

Also on display is an essay written by Stilinovic, interestingly titled “The Praise of Laziness.” But before you start calling this guy your new role model, realize that Stilinovic’s reason for praising laziness is that it produces great works of art — one of the new concepts introduced by the Carnegie International. A room whose walls are lined with dictionary pages that have the word “pain” scribbled next to each word, with the definition of the word lightened to the point where it was almost invisible, is yet another example of Stilinovic’s work on display.

Walking through the Modern and Contemporary Room, visitors are exposed to paintings and various works from different time periods, including Georges Rouault’s “The Old King.” The descriptions to the sides of the paintings are helpful, since what may seem like a painting of a king holding a flower is actually meant as a display of power contrasted with fragility. Another, simply titled “Hoeing,” is a depressing image of flat shapes against a dark background to show the struggles of the poor in the South.

Following the modern and contemporary artwork is the postwar abstraction room, featuring abstract pieces from artists such as Phyllida Barlow and Rodney Graham, who gave a musical performance on Saturday. Barlow’s featured piece at the Carnegie International is a tilted cube covered with a collage of multicolored shapes, which morph painting, sculpture, architecture, and object into one. Another set of interesting pieces is On Kawara’s “Today” paintings. On each painting are three different — apparently meaningless — dates painted in the same font. Ironically, his piece was supposed to show how every day is meaningful, and that every day should be remembered.

Another exhibit, called the Playground Project, though still a part of Carnegie International, is a refreshing change from the rest of the exhibition’s artwork: It features artwork from children who attended summer camp at the Carnegie Museum of Art among other playground art.

Considering that it’s sitting right outside the museum, the piece most familiar to outsiders is the Lozziwurm, the orange and yellow tubes that sit outside the Carnegie Museum of Art. The structure was initially designed in 1972 by Swiss artist Yvan Pestalozzi and is still being created by the original Lozziwurm manufacturer, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In an effort to make the museum’s entrance appear friendlier, curators ordered one from the manufacturer and brought it to the museum as a playground for children. Interestingly enough, the Lozziwurm comes in a kit that can be assembled in a variety of ways, and has openings through which children can climb. The Lozziwurm, though placed outside, is still a part of the Playground Project; the rest is situated inside the museum.

The rest of the Playground Project exhibit might seem cute to some and creepy to others. Televisions showing videos of children at play are scattered throughout the exhibit, in addition to photos of unique and artistic playgrounds from around the world. The museum also displays some of the children’s artwork, and has arranged the pieces together to create something new. Though this section of the Carnegie International is somewhat strange, it is intriguing as well, especially the section in which children had to add shapes to a normal photograph, such as that of a building, in order to make it into a playground.

Though it may initially seem intimidating to have to find your own way through the exhibits featured in the Carnegie International, you will eventually get lost in the maze of art until returning to the beginning. Instead of confusing viewers with complex meanings, these pieces all have something to teach, or at least have something to say. The Carnegie International will be open until March 16, so there is time for everyone to see it.