SEATTLE, WA.- The Frye Art Museum presents Empire, on view through January 4, 2009. Empire, curated by Robin Held, Frye chief curator and director of exhibitions, investigates the mechanisms of empire building and destruction, modernity and its discontents. Empire includes projected artworks, both metaphorical and documentary, many of which will be exhibited for the first time in the U.S., including Dias & Riedwegs Funk Staden (2007); Runa Islams Be the First to See What You See As You See It (2004); Paul Pfeiffers Empire (2004); Janos Reverz and Norbert Szirmais Fradi [FTC Hungary] is better (2002); and Halil Altinderes Dengbejs (2007).
Empire serves as an invigorating counterpoint to Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists, and the Rediscovery of Egypt, a traveling exhibition organized by New Yorks Dahesh Museum of Art. The exhibition traces the French emperors unsuccessful attempt to colonize Egypt in the late 1700s, while directing a team of more than 150 hand-picked savantsartists, writers, scientists and engineersto catalogue all of Egypts mysterious artifacts, architectural ruins, plants, animals and customs. The resulting Description de LÉgypte (180928), which took some 20 years and 2,000 draftsmen and typographers to complete, incorporates 23 oversized volumes, including 10 of etchings that demonstrate an exactitude unfathomable before the advent of photography, as well as fantastical renderings of the Egyptian empires glory days. The volumes laid the foundation for Egyptology, sparked the Egyptian Revival in design (and the long-lasting fad of Egyptomania) and prompted the European interest in Orientalism.