By Stephanie Wilks
February 28, 2012
Nick Cave’s Meet Me at the Center of the Earth
I imagine it’s challenging to run an art museum these days. In an age where photos of renowned artwork are available with a few clicks of a mouse, where practically every television show and movie streams into our living rooms, and when our social networks whittle away hours of our time, perhaps even debasing our standards for entertainment, education, and art as a whole – how exactly can you pull people out of their homes, off their couches, and away from their computers to see art in real life? The Cincinnati Art Museum has a solution: throw a party.
Art After Dark: Monet and Merlot, was a free admission soiree last Friday night complete with a cash bar and jazz quartet open to the general public. Visitors perused the newest and oldest collections the museum had to offer whilst mingling with friends over music and cocktails. The museum’s latest exhibits were undoubtedly the biggest attractions – 12 Monet oil paintings from his Giverny Water Lily collection, six generations of Picasso’s prints, and the contemporary installment, Nick Cave’s Meet Me at the Center of the Earth.
The Monet collection filled the parking lot as it was the highlight of the night, but it was perhaps Nick Cave’s wild and playful exhibit of knitted, beaded, sequined, fur-clad, and body-robed mannequins that stirred the most conversation. As we fixated on the intricate embroidery and curious human statement in front of us, someone whispered, “there are real people under there.” And for a second, I thought one of the mannequins might throw its arms up and come to life like an eastern world tribal king with the personality of Diane von Furstenberg or Frankenstein.
Human individuality is masked in this exhibit by highly structured and intricate body masks, as if saying – it’s not the color or shape of a person’s body that’s important, but the elaborate mixture of garb carefully sewn together and sanctified that characterizes each human being. It’s our experiences and values, and how we perceive them, that make us special, and yet, the same. Films of head-to-toe costumed dancers and several eight-feet circular tapestries are also a part of the exhibit, and although the exhibit was met with mixed feelings Friday, it certainly got us talking, and left us thinking.
As the Faux Frenchmen played their final song around 8:45 p.m., the guests finished their drinks and proceeded on with their Friday nights. Some of us drove away to hang with friends while others headed for the couch. Perhaps Monet, Picasso, and Nick Cave moved us enough to spend less time in front of our computers and televisions that night. And maybe, just maybe, the Cincinnati Art Museum attracted a few more regulars.to top ↑