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Dallas Museum of Art to Examine Relationships Between Performing and Visual Arts
Yinka Shonibare, M.B.E., Un Ballo in Maschera. 2004. High-definition digital video. Running time: 31 min. Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund.

DALLAS, TX.- The dynamic and historic connections between the visual and performing arts will be explored in two exhibitions—one focusing on contemporary artists and the other spanning multiple eras and cultures—at the Dallas Museum of Art. Drawn from the DMA’s encyclopedic collections and special loans, the exhibitions will be presented in conjunction with this fall’s historic opening of the new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts and the completion of the Dallas Arts District.

• Performance/Art (October 8, 2009 – March 21, 2010) will focus on a select group of six contemporary artists from around the world who include elements of theater, opera, and performance in their work. A unique feature of the exhibition is a set of studies by Argentine painter Guillermo Kuitca for his newly commissioned monumental curtain for The Winspear Opera House at the DCPA.

• All the World’s a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts (August 30, 2009 – February 28, 2010) will showcase approximately 100 works from the DMA’s expansive collection that celebrate and reference performance. Spanning 5,000 years of creativity from around the globe, these works will be presented in thematic groupings that explore relationships between visual and performing artists and the ways performers are represented and celebrated.

“With these two exhibitions the DMA extends an exuberant welcome to our newest neighbor, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, the opening of which further defines the Dallas Arts District’s profile as one of the country’s top cultural centers,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “Performance/Art and All the World’s a Stage are each inspired as much by theater, music, dance, opera, and performance as by the visual arts, revealing creative ties between our institutions and respective disciplines.”

Encompassing painting, sculpture, video, and installation, Performance/Art will feature the work of six contemporary artists who have adapted elements and characteristics of theater, opera, and performance in his or her work, including Argentine painter Guillermo Kuitca, Canadian sculptor David Altmejd, Finnish video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, British-Nigerian sculptor and media and installation artist Yinka Shonibare and the Dallas-based installation artists Tom Orr and Frances Bagley.

“From Shonibare’s haunting interpretation of Verdi, to Kuitca’s images exploring architecture of theaters and his Dallas studies, Performance/Art invites audiences to intimately experience artwork which reinterprets our experience and expectations of performance,” said Charles Wylie, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, the exhibition’s organizer.

The exhibition highlights include studies by Kuitca for his commission for The Winspear Opera House at the DCPA, his first design for a stage curtain. Known for his evocative paintings and drawings, Kuitca deconstructs theater seating charts to examine public performance spaces.

In a separate gallery, Shonibare’s video “Un Ballo in Maschera” will explore overlapping African and European cultural identities through the lens of dance and opera. Shonibare’s performers are dressed in 18th-century costumes fashioned from his signature colorful wax-print African cloth and enact a dazzling series of choreographed scenes the Guiseppe Verdi opera of the same name.

Ahtila’s haunting three-screen video Talo/The House will be installed much as a theater performance might look, though Ahtila’s ingenious use of space allows her audience to become fully engaged with the sights and sounds of the video. Set in a northern Finnish forest, the work includes an interior monologue similar to a theatrical soliloquy and follows a character who beguilingly narrates her increasingly tenuous grip on reality.

Performance/Art will also feature a new installation by Bagley and Orr commissioned especially for this exhibition. Based on their spectacular and powerful sets and costumes for the 2006 Dallas Opera production of Verdi’s Nabucco, the work provides a tangible connection between the DMA and it new neighbor’s history.

Finally, David Altmejd’s mesmerizing sculpture The Eye, a symmetrical, architectural piece with mirror as the primary medium, will be on view. This work was made while thinking of John Adams’s recent opera Doctor Atomic, in which a grand architectural construction of mirrors flooded with light created a hypnotically and nearly overwhelming experiential environment.

All the World’s a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts
Featuring approximately 100 works, All the World’s a Stage will explore the human impulse for performance around the world and throughout time. The exhibition reveals ways in which performance has been created, transformed, and documented by visual artists working in concert with dancers, musicians, and actors to both shape and record their creative activities.

The works in the exhibition will be grouped thematically into categories exploring why, how, and where performance takes place, and how performers are identified. Drawn from the DMA’s encyclopedic collections, the works span 5,000 years and include instruments, masks, paintings, sculpture, and photography, as well as a group of important 20th-Century electronics used to present performance, including an early television, radio, and microphone.

Among the highlights will be a group of Edward Degas’ pastels of ballet dancers; Pablo Picasso’s The Guitarist (1965), a late cubist portrait of a musician; and Romare Bearden’s Soul Three (1968), an important collage work depicting a jazz trio. Other masterworks on view will be two rare kraters, or wine vessels, from Ancient Greece (fourth and sixth centuries B.C.), depicting the intersection between performance and myth derived from the rituals associated with religious worship, festivals, and prayer; an Egungun costume from the Yoruba of Nigeria; Shiva Nataraja, an 11th century sculpture from India, and an ancient American trumpet (c. 300-200 B.C.) from Paracas, Peru.

The exhibition will also incorporate several theatrical tableaux in photography, including pieces by Cindy Sherman, Nic Nicosia, Matthew Barney, and Gregory Crewdson, among others. In these images, conventions of costume, character, and set are combined to create characters and scenarios often found on the stage.

The exhibition was conceived and organized collaboratively by the DMA’s curatorial staff, and the exhibition design will include a performance space within the galleries that will host a variety of live performances and films at special times throughout the exhibition, as well as video of interviews with Dallas-area performers.

Dallas Museum of Art | Guillermo Kuitca | David Altmejd | Eija-Liisa Ahtila | Yinka Shonibare | Tom Orr | Frances Bagley. |

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