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Wednesday, November 7,2012

Going Global, Folding Time

A sampler from the opening exhibition at the Eli and Edythe broad art museum

by Lawrence Cosentino

“I want the opening exhibitions to proclaim the mission of the museum loudly,” Broad Museum Director Michael Rush said.

That’s really two proclamations, as Rush sees it. The first is to go global, with artists from more than 20 countries represented in the opening exhibitions.

“We want to be part of the international dialogue, part of the discussion,” Rush said.

The second is to “build new dialogues across the centuries,” using the historical collection the Broad inherited from its predecessor, the Kresge Art Museum.

“In the future, you’re going to see historical objects from that collection interspersed with contemporary art,” Rush said. “This is tremendously exciting, because no other self-defined contemporary art museum can do this.”

The Broad’s opening exhibitions include two major themed exhibitions and several commissioned works.

‘In Search of Time’

Nov. 10-Feb. 10

If time is nature’s mechanism for keeping everything from happening at once, the Broad Museum has found the circuit breaker. “In Search of Time” juxtaposes artworks from the medieval period and the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, drawing dead artists into a lively conversation.

“This exhibition gives voice to the longing artists have held for hundreds of years to express their relationship to time and memory,” Rush said. “This impossible urge has taken many forms in all media.”

“In Search of Time” takes up two galleries and features work from the Broad MSU collection, the Broad Foundation and other borrowed pieces.

‘Global Groove 1973/2012’

Nov. 10-Feb. 24

Nam June Paik’s seminal video from 1973, “Global Groove,” is a jumping-off point for an intense ride through current trends in international video art. A fast-paced barrage of images and sounds, “Global Groove” was Paik’s prophetic statement about the future ubiquity of the video image.

Commissioned artists

The Broad’s opening exhibitions include commissioned art from Marco Brambilla, Iņigo Manglanno-Ovalle, Marjetica Potrc, Nguyen Phuong Linh, Jochen Gerz and Chen Qiulin. 

British artist Sam Jury has six digital images and videos in the Broad Museum’s opening exhibitions, more than any artist.

“To me, she represents the contemporary artist who is at home bringing traditional landscape painting and performance into the digital world,” Rush said.

“She leaves a great deal of mystery in her works, a great deal of emptiness that we are encouraged to fill. They’re intensely beautiful and intensely mysterious. She pulls off quite a combination. And this is her first sizeable U.S. showing.”

There’s a lot of input in the Broad Museum’s opening exhibitions, but Chinese artist Chen Qiulin’s haunting “Floating” series will probably linger in many visitor’s memories.

“She’s created this installation of flowing bodies made of papier-mâché based on her experience with her family when the Three Gorges Dam was opened up in China and flooded everything,” Rush said. “You walk into the room, you see these eight or nine suspended bodies in all different kinds of positions, as if they’re floating through the water.”

The museum building itself collaborates actively with one of the commissioned artists, Chicago’s Iņigo Manglanno-Ovalle. “Red Factor” was created to respond to the largest gallery, on the sharply angled west side of the building. Taking full advantage of the dynamic room’s zooming upthrust, Manglanno-Ovalle placed an inverted Buckminster Fuller-esque geodesic dome near the ceiling, like a parachute. 

“He grapples with this issue of the place of architecture in modern society,” Rush said. “He translates the molecular components of a cloud into aluminum forms. He’s a genuine MacArthur genius kind of person.”

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