Posted by: ghannahnewsletters | September 20, 2008

The Frye Art Museum Presents Empire

The Frye Art Museum Presents Empire, Curated By Robin Held

Dias & Riedweg. Funk Staden, 2007. Video installation. 10 x 46 x 46 ft. Image courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.
SEATTLE, WA.- The Frye Art Museum presents Empire, on view through January 4, 2009. Empire, curated by Robin Held, Frye chief curator and director of exhibitions, investigates the mechanisms of empire building and destruction, modernity and its discontents. Empire includes projected artworks, both metaphorical and documentary, many of which will be exhibited for the first time in the U.S., including Dias & Riedweg’s Funk Staden (2007); Runa Islam’s Be the First to See What You See As You See It (2004); Paul Pfeiffer’s Empire (2004); Janos Reverz and Norbert Szirmai’s Fradi [FTC Hungary] is better (2002); and Halil Altindere’s Dengbejs (2007).

Empire serves as an invigorating counterpoint to Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists, and the Rediscovery of Egypt, a traveling exhibition organized by New York’s Dahesh Museum of Art. The exhibition traces the French emperor’s unsuccessful attempt to colonize Egypt in the late 1700s, while directing a team of more than 150 hand-picked “savants”—artists, writers, scientists and engineers—to catalogue all of Egypt’s mysterious artifacts, architectural ruins, plants, animals and customs. The resulting Description de L’Égypte (1809–28), which took some 20 years and 2,000 draftsmen and typographers to complete, incorporates 23 oversized volumes, including 10 of etchings that demonstrate an exactitude unfathomable before the advent of photography, as well as fantastical renderings of the Egyptian empire’s glory days. The volumes laid the foundation for Egyptology, sparked the Egyptian Revival in design (and the long-lasting fad of Egyptomania) and prompted the European interest in Orientalism.


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