In April, New York's Museum of Arts and Design will open "Dead or Alive", an exhibition showcasing the work of more than 30 international artists who use organic and once-living materials-such as insects, feathers, shells, bones, silkworm cocoons, plant materials, and fur.
"In the hands of these artists mute materials are brought back to life as works of art," states Chief Curator David McFadden. "With profound and provocative associations, organic materials are transformed and resuscitated. This exhibition evokes our deepest emotions about mortality, but at the same time celebrates the new life given to lifeless materials by these talented individuals."
Dead or Alive, on view until October 24, 2010, features new site-specific installations and recent work by contemporary artists from around the world, including Jennifer Angus, Nick Cave, Tessa Farmer, Damien Hirst, Alastair Mackie, Kate MccGwire, and a collaborative installation by Tim Tate and Marc Petrovic.
• Artist Nick Cave uses leaves, hair, twigs, and other found objects to create bold costume-sculptures called Soundsuits. When worn, the Soundsuits are brought to life and create a loud swell of noise as the performer moves-a meditation on the power of ritual and ceremony.
• Jennifer Angus also subverts familiar forms with her site-specific architectural installations. Built to mimic interiors furnished with traditional wallpaper and textiles, the works are actually ornamented with thousands of dried insects pinned directly to the wall. These installations blur the distinction between decoration and expression, and between domestic comforts and disturbance.
• Cuban artist Fabian Peña employs insects to explore the endless cycle of life and death, and to comment on the foulest conditions of human existence. For The Impossibility of Storage for the Soul (2007), Peña has rendered an image of the human skull using only clipped cockroach wings. Mounted on a light box, the wings cast an eerie amber glow into the gallery.
• Washington Glass School's Tim Tate and Marc Petrovic's collaborative work "The Apothecarium Moderne" is an installation referencing a 19th century apothecary.......but represents cures for the ills of modern man.
The nine cures represented are (Left to Right From Top) : Loss Of Faith, Financial Insecurity, Identity Theft, Over-population, Erectile Dysfunction, Infertility, Family Dysfunction, Intelligent Design and Ennui.
Marc Petrovic on the collaborative process: "I really enjoyed being able to add and subtract elements and ideas with another artist. It seemed to take some of the mental pressure off not having to come up with the entire concept and execution all on my own. I often have input from my wife, Kari Russell-Pool, when I work on my own pieces, but I almost always execute my own pieces entirely by myself from start to finish. This was a lot of work, but a great experience."
"After a majority of the components were made I went to Tim’s studio in DC and we laid out all of our fabricated parts along with all our found objects. After we went over each bottle one at a time putting all of the parts for each bottle together to get a better visual of our concepts manifested, we then edited the pieces further and added or subtracted components to get them to work visually as well as to strengthen the concepts.""We then split up the components again and, each in our own shops, worked on assembling the more complex components. Tim did the final engraving of text on the bottles. The division of labor worked out to be pretty equitable."
The top finial contains an exclamation point. Inside is filled with unlit matches, save for one atop a dome filled with firecrackers. The text is in German....the chorus of Beethoven's 9th Symphony's "Ode To Joy".