Monday, May 18, 2009

The Puppet Show / Frye Art Museum

Kiki Smith (image via Frye Art Museum)

Like most Seattleites, I spent almost every possible minute I could outside enjoying this beautiful weekend.  The few hours inside were spent being transfixed by the new show at Frye Art Museum.  Ingrid Schaffner and Carin Kuoni have cocurated a wonderful exhibit called The Puppet Show.  But the exhibition isn't really about puppets; the show is about control and manipulation through contemporary puppet imagery. 

Laurie Simmons, still from Music of Regret, 2006 (image via Frye Art Museum)

It's a pretty full show (30 artists) and I have a feeling that I'll be going back frequently to watch all the videos (over seven hours worth).  Nathalie Djurberg (recently seen at Howard House) alone has around five video pieces. 

There's also a large installation called Puppet Storage (which serves as the exhibit's unconscious), full of various objects/puppets that have inspired or relate to the show.  You'll want to spend a lot of time here exploring various objects (such as Nayland Blake's childhood Winnie-the-Pooh).

Cindy Loehr, video still (image via Frye Art Museum)

Ingrid's talk on Saturday really got me thinking about the role of puppets and their relationship to society.  The goals of puppets are to either entertain (I can think of several ways I'd rather be entertained) or to act as an agent to say/do the things we can't (a function I find much more interesting).  The Puppet Show is heavily curated on the latter.  Sexual abuse, violence, apartheid, rape, loneliness, the inability to communicate and many more adult themes are covered here.  

William Kentridge, Act 4 Scene 1 (image via Frye Art Museum)

There are some amazing artists represented.  Yes, the Kentridge-palooza continues but I couldn't quit looking at these pieces. Also included are Nayland Blake (I love this man!), Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Pierre Huyghe (can't wait to see the complete video), Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim (simultaneously beautiful and cacophonous), Kara Walker and lots more.


Nayland Blake, Joe Dallesandro as Augustin, 1994 (image via Frye Art Museum)

In addition to the already fantastic exhibit, the amazing Frye staff (led by chief curator, Robin Held), have created tons of supplementary programming.  My predicted highlights will be Robin's talk, John Bell's presentation, and Robert Horton's film screenings.  

The Puppet Show is up now through September 13 -- don't miss it!

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Frye Art Museum also recently opened Bringing Munich Home:  Selections from the Frye Founding Collection and Over Julia's Dead Body: Gabriel von Max's Mystics and Martyrs. I just love how they continue to reinterpret these familiar pieces. 

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