55th Carnegie International
5.3.08 - 1.11.09
Curator's Introductionby Douglas Fogle
Carnegie Museum of Art Curator of Contemporary Art and Curator of the 2008 Carnegie International
"Life on Mars," the 2008 Carnegie International
, focuses on the increasingly relevant question of what it means to be human in the world today. Foregoing any universal answers to this question, the artists in the exhibition investigate particular aspects of the human condition, moving along paths that are both introspective and worldly while poetically traversing the dramatic spectrum from tragedy to comedy. The question, "Is there life on Mars?" is a rhetorical one, posed in the face of a world in which increasingly accelerating global events--political, social, natural, and economic--seem to challenge and threaten to overtake our most basic forms of everyday existence.
Rather than a literal search for extraterrestrial intelligence, this question might be seen as a metaphorical quest to explore what it means to be human in this radically unmoored world. Moving from the micro to the macro levels of experience, the exhibition proposes to look at the multiple perspectives and myriad responses to this 21st-century dilemma from artists from all over the globe.
Today, a concern with the question of what it means to be human can be found in contemporary art everywhere. Many of the younger artists in the exhibition have inherited a legacy that seeks to produce the momentary, the ephemeral, and the modest rather than the monumental. One sees in their work not a discredited universal humanism but a real connection to the human condition, expressed with an economy of means that is at once fragile and powerful.Life on Mars
is a collective self-portrait of humanity colliding with the economic and political events that define daily existence. Questions of our survival are humorously and poignantly brought to the fore in films, installations, paintings, sculptures, and photographs that search for the sublime in the banality of everyday life.
[Watch the video interview with Douglas Fogle in the Video/Audio Library
Image at top: Paul Thek, American, 1933-1988. Untitled (Earth Drawing I), c. 1974, acrylic on four sheets of newspaper. Collection of Robert Wilson, New York, The Estate of George Paul Thek. Courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York.