PROVIDENCE, RI, May 4, 2018 - The RISD Museum announces the presentation of three timely exhibitions of its collection--The Phantom of Liberty: Contemporary Works the RISD Museum Collection, on view through December 30, 2018; United Histories, on view through August 12, 2018; and Former Glory, opening on July 27, 2018 and on view through January 20, 2019.
This is the largest presentation to date of contemporary works from the RISD Museum's collections of contemporary art, costumes and textiles, decorative arts, and prints, drawings, and photographs. The exhibition's title is inspired by Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel's 1974 surrealist film of the same name reflecting the exhibition's loose structure of thematic groupings that quietly inform one another, as well as the cultural and political climate of the past half-century. The works in The Phantom of Liberty pose trenchant questions about the possibility of liberty and freedom in a moment defined by mass incarceration, technologically sophisticated means of surveillance and information gathering, increasing economic disparities, and intensifying divisions based on race, religious affiliation, and gender or sexual orientation.
Subtle connections between themes in the exhibition are exemplified by the transition from Sage Sohier's sympathetic image of a same-sex couple and their child to works by Tina Barney, Deana Lawson, Ree Morton, and Jessi Reaves that explore domesticity and interpersonal relationships to assume vivid astro focus's rainbow chain curtain depicting LGBTQ-rights adversary Pope Benedict XVI. Sculptures by Faig Ahmed, Robert Arneson, and Joyce J. Scott similarly examine various notions of religion and spirituality. David Levinthal's unsettling photograph of a Nazi concentration camp constructed from toy models brings reflections on incarceration and torture by James Casebere, Tony Cokes, Elizabeth Duffy, and Robert Gober into conversation with works by Shimon Attie, Helen Frankenthaler, and James Montford that consider the ongoing impact of various holocausts throughout history. The meditation on colonialism, race, power, and place in Yinka Shonibare's Un Ballo in Maschera (Courtiers V) (2004) provides a segue between evocations of economic disparities and realities by David Allyn, Walead Beshty, Alejandro Diaz, Lubaina Himid, and Timorous Beasties, and understandings of displacement and migration by Allora & Calzadilla, Nicole Eisenman, Raul Gonzalez III, and Jordan Seaberry.
The Phantom of Liberty: Contemporary Works in the RISD Museum Collection is organized by Dominic Molon, the RISD Museum's Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art.
United Histories pairs works from different disciplines and time periods to create dialogues about the history of, and life in, the United States of America. A Windsor chair from the 1920s (signifying the endurance of an iconic American style) is presented alongside Robert Wilson's 1977 Stalin Chairs (inspired by his 1973 opera The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin) to encourage consideration of America's still-fraught relationship with Russia and its contentious diplomatic situations with many other nations. Carey Young's Declared Void(2005) and Roger Shimomura's American Guardian (2008) question how the rights provided by the Constitution can be and have been legislated and administered. Young offers a provisional space that is neither protected by nor beholden to American rule of law, while Shimomura draws on his family's experience in a Japanese internment camp in the 1940s.
United Histories is organized by Dominic Molon, the RISD Museum's Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art.
The American flag is an icon of patriotism, imbued with authority and cultural significance. This exhibition of works created in a range of media considers the American flag in the context of our time. As a representation of national identity, the flag purportedly encompasses a diversity of people, but it has also been used to substantiate the idea of American exceptionalism. Spanning more than 150 years, Former Glory questions our emotional connections to the flag and explores its presence in domestic and international communities. Humorous, violent, critical, and sentimental, these varied works acknowledge and reflect on American nationalism and our complex histories.
Former Glory is organized by Anita N. Bateman, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. The exhibition is part of the For Freedoms 50 State Campaign, a nationwide initiative organized in different institutions to address U.S. mid-term elections. For Freedoms is a artist-run collective that considers the relationship between art and politics.
About the RISD Museum
The RISD Museum was founded on the belief that art, artists, and the institutions that support them play pivotal roles in promoting broad civic engagement and creating more open societies.
Established in 1877 as part of a vibrant creative community, the RISD Museum stewards works of art representing diverse cultures from ancient times to the present. We interpret our collection with the focus on the maker and we deeply engage with art and artists, presenting ideas and perspectives that can be inspiring and complex. We aspire to create an accessible and inclusive environment that builds meaningful relationships across all communities.
For more information: 401-454-6500 or risdmuseum.org.