February 21, 2016 - Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - Suspended Animation
February 21, 2016

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Agnieszka Polska, I Am the Mouth (video still), 2014. Courtesy of the artist and ŻAK | BRANICKA, Berlin.

Suspended Animation
February 10, 2016–March 12, 2017

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Avenue at Seventh Street SW
Washington, D.C., 20560
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–5:30pm

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Curated by Gianni Jetzer

Roughly a century after the production of the first animated film, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden presents Suspended Animation. The exhibition brings together six artists who use animation as a tool to challenge conceptions of reality: Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska. Their works explore the actualities of the information age, such as the impact of virtual worlds on tangible physical experience or the digitization of identity.

In science fiction and medicine, the term “suspended animation” refers to slowing down vital processes in order to extend life. Applied to contemporary computer animation, the notion refers to the virtual replacement of the physical body. An important part of human experience today is occurring on screens, and a disembodied consciousness is taking over. This phenomenon has led the artists in this exhibition to redefine the body by reworking the relation between self and technology.

Rather than mimicking the real, their artworks use the medium to examine the embodiment of reality within a digital world. Animation provides the means to investigate the relationship between reality and simulation, fact and fiction, human beings and avatars. Such works ultimately ask whether the virtual body marks the end of the real body.

The artists employ a diverse array of cutting-edge techniques, such as digital assemblage (Marten), facial substitution (Kline), and projection onto pneumatic sculpture (Catala). And they draw on sources as varied as psychologist Julian Jaynes’s theory of the evolution of human consciousness (Cheng), the poetry of metafictionist Gilbert Sorrentino (Atkins), and the peculiar perceptual phenomenon of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (Polska).

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
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