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Minneapolis Institute of Art presents new sculptures by The Propeller Group
Installation photograph by Ana Taylor, New Pictures: The Propeller Group, Reincarnations, Minneapolis Institute of Art.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- On April 22, 2017, the Minneapolis Institute of Art will present the latest installment of its “New Pictures” series with an exhibition featuring the Ho Chi Minh City–based artist collective, The Propeller Group. Centered on The Propeller Group’s powerful 2014 film The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, this exhibition will engage in a dialogue about funerary traditions, drawn from the themes of the film itself, as well as a display of approximately 30 objects spanning 4,000 years from Mia’s renowned collections of Asian, African, Classical, and Native American art selected by the collective. The exhibition will also feature new sculpture created specifically for this show, including the collective members’ own funerary masks, inspired by a Chinese funerary mask from the Liao dynasty (c. 916–1125).

On view through September 10, 2017, “New Pictures: The Propeller Group, Reincarnations” is made possible by the museum’s Gale Asian Art Initiative, which provides resources for innovative programs, exhibitions, and scholarship on Asian art and culture. The exhibition melds Mia’s growing commitment in this area with a new direction for the “New Pictures” series: to highlight artists who have pushed the boundaries of photography and new media by creating work that critically engages a dialogue on current social, cultural, and political concerns, connecting historical images and objects to contemporary art on a global scope.

“Mia is thrilled to partner with The Propeller Group to present this installment of ‘New Pictures,’” said Yasufumi Nakamori, Mia’s Curator of Photography and New Media. “The Propeller Group has become a standard-bearer of creating socially, historically, and politically engaged—and often subversive—work that defies expectations and preconceived notions of Asian culture, all the while challenging our conceptions of death, violence, and the world we live in, and revealing uncanny interconnectedness among the Global South cultures. I look forward to seeing how these incredible artists draw inspirations from Mia’s collection in developing this exhibition and new work.”

Established in 2006 by Matt Lucero, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, and Phunam, The Propeller Group is known for creating large-scale cross-disciplinary and collaborative works that examine issues of politics, power, propaganda, and manipulation, with a focus on the cultural, political, and economic conditions of Asia.

The artist collective first rose to international acclaim for Television Commercial for Communism (2011), which debuted in the New Museum’s 2012 Triennial exhibition and explored the inherent tensions and contradictions between Communist and capitalist systems. In 2014, they premiered The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music at the Prospect New Orleans Biennial, and it has since become one of their most renowned works. Currently, the group’s first survey exhibition is touring in the United States.

“The focus of our exhibition at Mia is to invoke connections between different cultures and their spiritual relics and rituals,” said the artist collective in a statement. “This selection draws upon some of the ideas in common with our film—mainly the relationship between the living and the dead, and the spaces created by the living to honor the dead. There is a liminal quality to the rituals and spaces associated with the objects in this installation, as most of the objects are connected to death and the divine.”

Object highlights include:

• Model Boat and Figures, 22nd–18th century BCE, Egypt (Mia accession number 16.496)

• Bodhisattva, late 6th century, China (Mia accession number 42.4.1)

• Mami Wata Figure, 1950s, Nigeria (Mia accession number 2011.29)

• Transformation Mask, Richard Hunt (1951), Kwakwaka’wakw, Canada (Mia accession number 93.42)

• Caduceus, 2nd century, Roman (Mia accession number 2000.64)

In addition to curating the exhibition, The Propeller Group is creating objects inspired by—or reimagined versions of—objects in Mia’s collection, including Funerary Mask of a Young Woman made of gilt bronze, which dates to China’s Liao dynasty (c. 916–1125).

“Through our interdisciplinary method of creating art, we are seeking to engage and create a dialogue with the objects across different cultures and times,” the collective said.

Mia has acquired this edition of The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music.

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