Pittsburgh Biennial @Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Several friends have told me that I should make time to go over the the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts to see the Biennial. I confess that I don’t get there very often. I don’t drive, so when I make excursions out, I generally try to tie several things together. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is situated in a mostly residential area, even though it is on easy traffic routes. When I go there it is the only place I go: there aren’t even any restaurants or coffee shops close by. It entails a significant block of time and only one destination. But I am glad that I took the time to go to the show.

Sun Young Kang

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Sun Yang Kang Filtered Memories (Incense burning on paper)

I’m glad I came when the gallery was pretty quiet. This would have been a difficult piece to see with a crowd. I spent quite a bit of time in this room. It was like sitting in a room crowded with another’s ghosts. The scrolls, suspended over rods, moved and shifted subtly, tiny movements encouraged by the air currents in the room. Each of the scrolls is insribed with a legend on the bottom edge of the scrol. For instance –

May 28, 1965
Mother seems to have given up struggling with the tragedies in our family.
I cannot help but respect her when I face her calmness.

The legends printed on the scrolls may have some relation to the characters burned into the sheets; no way for me to tell. Somehow, I doubt that it is a direct translation, given the brevity of the english prose and the length of the burned characters. One thing that I would like to note. This work, all of the works that Sun Young Kang presented at the Biennial, are informed by her ethnic heritage. But the work did not strike me as a study in social anthropology, which is a tendency in other artists that work from their heritage. Instead I felt that, even though I could not understand the charcters, I still came away from viewing this work enriched.

Dylan Vitone

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Dylan Vitone Ducky Tours

Vitone’s panoramic photographs measured about 60″ in width. The long format makes it difficult to get a feel for the work in the above image. I have provided a slightly larger image, linked here. I liked Ducky Tours. A lot. Really. How he chose that title, I don’t know; there is so much random stuff happening in the above photograph. He could just as easily called it the intersection of Liberty and Smithfield, where the photograph was taken. Dylan Vitone is represented in the exhibit by several of these panoramic photographs.

Bovey Lee

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Bovey Lee (Detail of one of her works)

This is a traditional artform, cutting paper. I have seen several examples of this type of work, most recently from a vendor at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The difference with Lee’s work is her use of contemporary themes and images. Several of the works that she presented for the Biennial had this chain link fence motif. I could not get a good image of the works, so I will refer you to her Artists File Online page. Much better images there.

The Pittsburgh Biennial, on the whole was very satisfying. I will mention that I am disinclined to watch video art. Something in my make up does not allow me to sit in a dark room and watch. Please know that several of the artists represented at the Biennial are video artists. The Biennial will be in place for the next two months.

Pittsburgh Biennial
May 3 – August 24, 2008
Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
6300 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
412-361-0873


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