Arts & Entertainment

The Carnegie International: raising questions and deflating balloons  

Written by Parker Wadding  

Did you know that the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History is completely free to Carlow students? The museum, in the heart of Oakland, Pittsburgh, is an incredible opportunity to bear witness to a collection of over 34,000 works of art. From September 24, 2022 to April 2, 2023, the museum hosted the 58th annual Carnegie International. As the longest-running exhibition of international art in North America, it is only displayed every 3-4 years.   

This year the Carnegie International has been entitled ‘Is it morning for you yet’. The exhibition examines the way the United States has marked the world from 1945 to the current day. The comparison of historic and current social concerns is stunning. One widely acclaimed exhibition tackles issues of the deflated value of human rights, which the museum curates perfectly by lining the walls with a series of photographs depicting the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. The exhibition does an incredible job of displaying historically significant works from international institutions, estates, and artists alongside contemporary pieces to tell the story of America’s impression on humanity.   

Art and English double major at Carlow University, Emi Leong, is an associate of the Andy Warhol Museum. She spoke about her experience working closely with the Carnegie Museum of Art, “I’ve been working under the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh for a year now and I’ve met so many people who fly into town for the International alone; it’s really opened my eyes to how special it is that we get to have it every day.”   

Photo of Yoshiki Azuma’s personal artifact from the exhibition taken by Parker Wadding

The Hiroshima Collection is a powerful part of the Carnegie International, housed in the Hall of Sculpture. In 1982 Hiromi Tsuchida, a Japanese photographer, began cataloging victims’ personal artifacts displayed in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Connecting pictures of disfigured lunchboxes, torn clothing, and singed hair with the stories of their owners are displayed under the photographs. Some of the personal items were donated directly to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum by the owners, but more often the objects were found by family members in searching for their loved ones. In one case a victim’s cap was not donated until 2005. The description states, “Yoshiki Azuma (15 at the time) was at a morning assembly at his school (2,200 meters from the hypocenter). Burned over his entire body, he was taken to a dormitory of the Toyo Kogyo company. His mother, Miyako, found him there and took him to Kure, where the family had gone. Yoshiki died on September 24. He was wearing this cap on the day of the bombing. Having lost their only son, his parents kept it, never mentioning it to anyone. Miyako died in 2003. The cap was discovered in a drawer when Miyako’s younger sister, Kikue, was cleaning out the house.” 

In the same room, the photographs surround 10 clusters of huge golden helium balloons. Each cluster is comprised of the letters that make up the first 10 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With the backdrop of some of the most horrific war crimes committed it is hard not to observe the right for Equality (Article 1) and the Freedom from Torcher and Degrading Treatment (Article 5) become deflated as well. These exhibitions convey the unethical nature of warfare and how we may learn from our ancestor’s mistakes. With works from over 100 artists and collections, every corner of the International succeeds in raising thought-provoking questions and concerns, leaving you to wander the halls in shock and awe.  

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