Capturing minimalism in motion is no easy feat, but the new exhibit at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood proves to do just that.
“Amie Siegel’s Interiors,” a multimedia exhibition open from May 20 to September 3, attempts to mull over the perceived cultural value of objects, and, according to the Frye Museum website, “the power systems that evolve from connoisseurship, collecting, and image making.”
These objects include photographs of items like chairs or statues, mounted on walls or displayed using digital projectors.
“Through the complex, meticulously constructed works that are her signature, she explores how hierarchies of ownership, display, and the production of images — constructs of the human mind as well as the museum — influence ideas of cultural and aesthetic worth,” the Frye Art Museum’s website states when describing the artistic intent behind the works in the exhibit.
Some of the works featured in the exhibition include the short film “Provenance,” which is described as “a slow reveal over multiple parts, Provenance peels back layers of cultural patrimony, rendering the global trade in modernist furniture from architect Le Corbusier’s controversial city of Chandigarh, India.”
The film traces, in reverse, the furniture’s trajectory from wealthy collectors’ homes to auctions, restoration and shipping, back to the furniture’s origins in India.
Another work, called “The Modernists,” depicts a couple’s travelling escapades through the medium of their private photograph archives and super 8 mm films between the 1960s and 1980s.
The piece explores the relationship between the camera and public performance.
The exhibition was curated by Kathleen Forde, an independent curator based out of New York City.
CEO and director of the art museum Joseph Rosa said on their website, “We are thrilled to bring this intellectually rigorous body of work to Seattle.
“These are pieces that reward sustained and multiple encounters, and which invite reflections on the global structures of power that both envelope and extend beyond the art world.”
Siegel is a filmmaker and photographer who grew up in Chicago and has had multiple exhibitions featured in museums around the world, including prestigious institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He has also had films debut at film festivals such as Cannes and Toronto.
In “Interiors,” the rooms of each display are relatively devoid of color and clutter, sticking to simple grayscale walls and floors, with a projector on a basic stand casting an image on the wall or with a large photograph on a canvas dominating the space.
These photographs display monochromatic color schemes and washed-out hues, with the occasional pops of red and orange or emphasized beams of sunlight streaking through the pictures.
The displays are pensive, evoking a mood that makes one want to tilt their head and decipher what the artist is trying to say with each thought-provoking piece. Nothing is too overdone or too fantastical; a minimalist atmosphere permeates each work, but with enough interest to capture the eye.
Though simplistic at times, Siegel is never boring, cultivating a contemplative world within a world. Her work forces patrons to take a step back and consider what role objects take in their lives and the cultural implications of those roles.