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Viewfinder: Art in the Age of Globalization at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Art in the Age of Globalization is an exhibition that spans three floors of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Target Wing. Taking up a variety of gallery and thoroughfare spaces, this show represents a collaborative curatorial effort. Working within their areas of expertise, curators and staff from different departments mined the museum’s collection to take […]

Installation view of Global Fusion, or, It’s a Flat World, After All in the three-floor exhibition, Art in the Age of Globalization, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo courtesy of the MIA.

Art in the Age of Globalization is an exhibition that spans three floors of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Target Wing. Taking up a variety of gallery and thoroughfare spaces, this show represents a collaborative curatorial effort. Working within their areas of expertise, curators and staff from different departments mined the museum’s collection to take up themes in the grand narrative of globalization: water, digitalization, cultural fusion, outsourcing, excess material production, migration, commodity goods, and religion.  The objects they’ve assembled include ancient clay vessels, pastoral landscapes, digitally manipulated photographs, contemporary sculpture, new media installation, and video.  Objects not generally considered as art occasionally make an appearance as well, including one of the Ralph Lauren-designed 2012 U.S. Olympic team jackets that caused a controversy over outsourcing this past summer, and a display of ethnic Barbie dolls.

This exercise in illustrating pertinent contemporary phenomena is logical for an institution whose survey collection is global by nature. The rise of exhibitions over the past decade that have taken “the global” as a site of inquiry have largely looked at contemporary art, reflecting the market’s continuing shift toward carving out non-Western centers of artistic production. Yet the foundational stories of globalization are just as aptly told through the story of porcelain, a material discovered a thousand years ago and which, at the time, spurred a global commodity trade to satisfy the aesthetic desires of Chinese, European and Middle Eastern elites.  In addition to the contemporary work in the exhibition, the MIA’s deep, global collection of porcelain objects from that era are also employed beautifully by way of illustrating the show’s thesis.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Siah Armajani’s Mississippi Delta (2005-2006), a large-scale drawing of America’s great river
  • Cy Thao’s 50-part painting depicting 5,000 years of Hmong history
  • Doug Aiken’s migration (empire) – linear version (2008), 24 minute video of wild animals in motel rooms
  • Dozens of water pitchers spanning hundreds of years of material production and design globally

Installation view of A Drop to Drink, part of Art in the Age of Globalization currently at Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo courtesy of the MIA.

Related links and information:
Art in the Age of Globalization is on view in the Target Wing of Minneapolis Institute of Arts through July 31, 2013. Admission to this exhibition is free and open to the public. For gallery hours and additional information: http://artsmia.org/

Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.