You walked into the golden gilded vaulting ceilings of the Carnegie Music Hall — hallmarks of old money — and they were aglow with the pulsing neon pastels of LED shells and vibrating with the sounds of some of the hottest electronic artists of the local music collectives VIA and Hot Mass. The event was the Carnegie Museum of Art's NIGHTIME Party from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. this past Friday, Sept. 9, which was held to kick off the Hillman Photography Initiative's LIGHTIME year-long series. The evening began with smaller events in the Carnegie Museum of Art itself with some new installations of light based art and an interactive three dimensional time lapse of the Forbes and Craig intersection where you are able to "move through time" by moving your body.
These exhibits existed along side the traditional art museum exhibits, only augmented by a photo-booth style event in the middle and the distant, subtle oozing of electronic beat and bass through the walls and floors. The CMOA has been working at making these kinds of late night events with contemporary DJs and bands a more regular thing in an effort to make the museum more "relevant" and "approachable."
However, these events still continue to be a bastion of a specific kind of elitism, that is merely the yuppier, new-money version of the gilded columns and expensive paintings housing this event. Beginning with the $25 entrance fee, the event primarily focused on the party side and less on the art. The event is actually the kick off of a year-long photography initiative looking at how light can be used to tell stories, with the themes of perception, environment, movement, and social justice.
To be fair, the information about these topics and this series were on fairly underwhelming information cards and the exhibit parts were somewhat unclear. However, the the general vibe of the event-goers was focused on seeing and being seen rather than finding out more about the art itself. The typical interaction many of the partygoers had with the exhibits was in drunkenly stumbling past them. The sense of trendy elitism aside, this event was all around a fantastic and surreal landscape of techno and bright lights reflecting on the facades of this parallel world of gold and marble as people danced with hula hoops and balloons and flower crowns.
As a nightclub, the event and experience were well designed.
As an art series, conceptually it is very interesting and should be exciting as these photography exhibits are unveiled over the year.
However, it feels like the party aspect in some ways relegated the art side to being a temporary diversion or backdrop for these young professionals dressed in their designer clothes, rather than promoting the art.