Fantasy and Magic Collide in Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence Exhibition at the Ringling Museum
May 24-August 10, 2008
Sarasota, FL—March 28, 2008 – Fantasy and magic collide in the interactive exhibition, Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence, at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art May 24-Aug. 10, 2008 in the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing. The exhibition consists of twelve works of mixed media by international artists. The pieces are comprised of videos, installations, objects and drawings that refer to absence, disappearance, and loss through the use special effects.
“This exhibition continues with our commitment to bring important contemporary art to the Museum,” says Dr. Stephen Borys, Ulla R. Searing Curator of Collections at the Ringling Museum. “Phantasmagoria sets the stage for a number of exciting shows focused on modern and contemporary art that will be presented in the Searing Galleries. These new galleries lend themselves to all types and periods of artmaking, but without question, there is an excellent fit with contemporary art.”
The practice of “phantasmagoria” dates back to the 18th century. Using lanterns and rear projections to create moving shadows and frightening theatrical effects, traveling theater shows, referred to as “phantasmagoria,” transformed familiar scenes and stories into dark and often emotionally-charged experiences for the viewer. In Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence, contemporary artists use the same principals—the use of spectral effects and immaterial mediums—to create ghostly images that play on the viewer’s anxieties about death and the afterlife.
“The artists represented in this show are highly innovative in the ways they force us to confront these feelings,” says Alexandra Libby, Assistant Curator of European Art at the Ringling. “In Danish artist Jeppe Hein’s Smoking Bench, for instance, the viewer sits in front of a mirror and is unexpectedly enveloped in a cloud of mist. Through the physical disappearance of the reflected self, Hein asks the viewer to consider his or her own emotional and spiritual feelings regarding absence, loss, and even death. It’s really wonderful.”
Artists represented in the exhibition include: Christian Boltanski, Jim Campbell, Michel Delacroix, Laurent Grasso, Jeppe Hein, William Kentridge, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Teresa Margolles, Oscar Muñoz, Julie Nord, Rosângela Rennó and Regina Silveira.
Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence is co-organized by Independent Curators International (icI) and the Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, in Bogotá, Colombia and is curated by José Roca, Director of Arts at the Museo de Arte del Banco de la República.
Theater programs in the Historic Asolo Theater and educational programs for children and adults will correspond to the exhibition. Theater and educational programs are not included in the price of regular admission.
The exhibition is funded, in part, by a grant from the Sarasota County Arts Council, Tourist Development Council, and the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners.