The Blanton’s Francesca Consagra, senior curator of prints, drawings and European paintings, recently contributed an essay to “The Progress of Love“, a catalogue that accompanied a collaborative exhibition of the same name at the Menil Collection, Houston; Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos; and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis. In honor of Valentine’s Day, an excerpt from her essay Finite Love is included below.
The Progress of Love exhibition at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis explores a threshold at the end of love’s spectrum: lamentation, the sorrow expressed after the loss of someone or something loved. Love and lamentation are entwined because love is finite. Whether through conflict, rejection, or death, the reciprocal dialogue of love will end, and the lament gives voice to that loss.
The Pulitzer exhibition binds the work of two Nigerian-diaspora artists—Yinka Shonibare MBE and Zina Saro-Wiwa—with the French artist Sophie Calle’s installation Take Care of Yourself, 2007. The grouping calls attention to the cosmopolitan imagination of the twenty-first century while understanding that a reaction to loss is, as succinctly stated by the literary scholar Rebecca Saunders, at once a “cultural artifact, a gendered language, a ritual performance, a psychological witness, and a political tool.” Through film, photography, and video the artists express their feelings, which vary in kind and in degree: Calle responds sardonically to the termination of a relationship, Saro-Wiwa inquiringly into the performance of psychological pain within a Nigerian context, and Shonibare metaphorically to the end of the West’s psychological, cultural, and economic dominance over other cultures. — Francesca Consagra
Eaten By The Heart is a video installation and documentary project conceived, produced and directed by film-maker and video artist, Zina Saro-Wiwa (mentioned in the above excerpt).
If the topic of love and art intrigues you, attend our next Perspectives Gallery Talk. Blanton Curatorial Associate Catherine Zinser will speak about images of love in the Blanton collection on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14 at 12:30 p.m. Admission and programs are free on Thursdays.