For this artist-curated installation of the Frye Art Museum’s collection, the research collective ESTAR(SER) reaches into an archive of dreams to assemble an exhibition that asks fundamental questions about museums and the works of art they hold: What do artworks want from us? And what do we want from them?
An ancient tale tells of an artist who once painted a child carrying a bunch of grapes. So lifelike was the image that birds came and pecked at the tasty-looking fruit. But the painter wasn’t satisfied. If the child had been more realistic, he reasoned, the birds would have been too frightened to approach. Determined, he reworked the painting, and, setting it outside, watched as three birds approached: the first glimpsed the child and fled, just as he had hoped; the second went ahead as before, and tried to eat the illusory fruit. But the third bird just landed in front of the painting and looked at it, in perfect stillness, for a very long time.
Embarking from this story of appetite, fear, and fascination, THE THIRD, MEANING stages much-loved works from the Frye Art Museum’s collection—along with some rarely seen treasures—in a series of triads, groupings of three that invite viewers to ponder the “Birdish” problem: Should we draw near? Turn away? Keep looking? Each triad aims to set up a small conversation (about form, about content, about history). Visitors are invited to eavesdrop on these quiet exchanges, occasionally with the aid of playful tools for focusing, diffracting, or remaking their perceptions. What is it like to look with avian eyes? And if the paintings were themselves birds, which is hungriest? Which would fly away? Which, gazing back, would stay?" (Promo Copy)