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Diplomatic Entanglements: Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck exhibits at Rochester Art Center
In Balteo Yazbeck’s work, which ranges between installation, video, photography and text, form is always aimed at serving content—each work sums up a long, meticulous process of research conducted using multiple sources such as historiography, journalism, diplomatic records and popular culture.


ROCHESTER, MN.- Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck relies on an investigative approach centered on analyzing how power and propaganda have intertwined in the geopolitical arena since the mid-twentieth century. His work functions like decoders, giving viewers the chance to examine decisive periods and events in contemporary history from new, overlooked perspectives. The artist devotes particular attention to the origins of the Cold War and to strategies implemented in that period from managing global power—specifically, controlling oil resources in the American context by merging state foreign policy with private industrial interests.

In Balteo Yazbeck’s work, which ranges between installation, video, photography and text, form is always aimed at serving content—each work sums up a long, meticulous process of research conducted using multiple sources such as historiography, journalism, diplomatic records and popular culture. Thus, his oeuvre is characterized by a high degree of hermeticism and complexity. It is organized into progressive, occasionally contemporaneous series that span years, developing separate thematic areas to be explored in ongoing analysis. The two major of these, Modern Entanglements (2006–2013) and Cultural Diplomacy: An Art We Neglect (2007–2009), encompass much of his output, some of it created in collaboration with the critic and art historian Media Farzin. In works such as R.S.V.P., 1939 (from the latter series), Balteo Yazbeck shows the fluid interrelation between art and political history, revealing, for instance, the constant interdependence between MoMA´s promotion of American art and the energy industry interests championed by the members of its board, especially during the years that Nelson Rockefeller was its president. A perspective of ideological analysis is constantly active in Balteo Yazbeck’s work, illustrating the conflicts of power and hegemony that permeate the relationships between corporate interests, national policy, and art history.

The objects which drive Farzin and Yazbeck’s story are almost too good to be true, conveying a historical moment and its ironies and tensions with minimal means and maximum force. R.S.V.P, 1939 (2007-2009) is a reproduction of an invitation conceived by former MoMA staff member Frances Collins and a professional printer friend. The expensive, flowery invite sarcastically invites guests to the opening of the ‘new museum of standard oil’. Its front is stamped with a small crown above the motto ‘Oil that glitters is not gold’— a dig at then-president of MoMA, Rockefeller. Rockefeller may be the most infamous embodiment of the collusion between private and government interests that characterized the time: as the head of intelligence in Latin America during the war, he commissioned MoMA to arrange several art exhibitions that toured the region.

In May 1946, the U.S. government extends a diplomatic invitation to several countries, including the Soviet Union, to attend atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. That August, an American officer was sent to the UK to supervise the construction of bomb loading pits required for an atomic offensive against the Soviet Union.

Balteo Yazbeck has developed a hybrid practice that incorporates the activities of a researcher, archivist, historian and curator. Working across various mediums, his productions formally resemble or incorporate the works of others, stressing notions of authorship and cultural authority. His entangled narratives are motivated by sociopolitical questions involving gaps in collective knowledge or misrepresentations in the public record, often focusing on the importance of propaganda as a political strategy. Authority is a recurring theme, especially cultural authority. In his works he aims to reveal the political strategies and motives at work in the world by analyzing the dynamics of power and propaganda in modern history and aesthetics.





Today's News

July 5, 2015

Sotheby's London unveils masterworks from the collections of Castle Howard

Rarely-seen portraits by Jean-Étienne Liotard on view at the Scottish National Gallery

National Gallery of Victoria announces major international exhibition featuring Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei

Overview of American artist Joseph Cornell's inventive oeuvre opens at the Royal Academy of Arts

Delaware Art Museum presents the first exhibition of painter and illustrator John Sloan's puzzles

Gateway to National Museum of American History's new Innovation Wing opens

Fundació Joan Miró opens a survey of the oeuvre of one of the greatest exponents of Catalan abstract painting

Centre Pompidou exhibits works by German photographers Anna and Bernhard Blume

MoMA exhibition highlights how artists have used the house as a means to explore universal topics

Seventy years working with glass: Acclaimed glass artist Lino Tagliapietra to visit Stockbridge

MoMA to present 'Mexico at Midnight: Film Noir from Mexican Cinema's Golden Age'

'Battle on the Board: Chess during World War II' opens at the World Chess Hall of Fame

'Reality in Flames: Modern Australian Art and the Second World War' opens at the Australian War Memorial

Diplomatic Entanglements: Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck exhibits at Rochester Art Center

New Aldrich exhibition reflects on the complex sociology of beauty in material culture

Where to Start From: Major exhibition of works by Maurizio Nannucci opens at MAXXI

Yoko Ono's 'Wish Tree' opens at Hirshhorn; Visitors are invited to tie wishes to the tree through Labor Day

Spink expected to break a few world records with July Collector's Series Sale

Exhibition of works by Guillaume Bresson opens at the Church des Célestins in Avignon

Wave Hill exhibits Benjamin Swett's photos of New York City trees

Exhibitions at Deichtorhallen focus on various series of works by the photographer Phillip Toledano

French pride fizzes as UNESCO lists Champagne and Burgundy vineyards

Italy Holocaust memorial shelters migrants from 'indifference'

New Smithsonian exhibition 'Primordial Landscapes' immerses visitors in Iceland's dynamic beauty

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