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Dallas Contemporary’s Immersive Experience

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Shilpa Gupta: For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit exhibit at the Dallas Contemporary. | Image from Dallas Contemporary website

When setting foot inside Dallas Contemporary’s most recent exhibits, there is a creative eeriness about the environment. Classical music is playing in the background on one side of the building and then complete silence on the other.

The lighting differs throughout the building, making each exhibit aesthetically pleasing. The space inside the building forces you to be alone with only these pieces and your thoughts, as each section radiates its own culture.

Founded in 1978, Dallas Contemporary started hosting exhibitions of its members’ artwork every year but eventually broadened its mission to include nonmember artists from Texas.

Today, the museum focuses on displaying both new and recognized works by local and international artists, as well as commissioned site-specific works. Here’s a taste of what they currently have on exhibit.

Ilya + Emilia Kabakov: Paintings About Paintings

After entering the main doors, you will immediately be captured by the collection to your left. The Paintings About Paintings exhibit portrays a rundown museum full of never-before-seen paintings, sculptures, and interactive works.

The series of paintings reflects a combination of theatrical storytelling and Victorian art. Classical music plays in the background throughout the exhibit, creating an aesthetic in and of itself.

Many large-scale paintings fill the spaces on that side of the museum, from front to back. Ilya and Emilia Kabakov have worked together as a husband-wife team for the past three decades.

They are best known for their large-scale paintings and integrating 1950’s to 1970’s Soviet Union culture into traditional paintings.

Shilpa Gupta: For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit

Tucked away to the right of the main entrance is this ingenious and extraordinary exhibit. Microphones, printed text on metal stands, and 100 speakers are installed in a closed-off, insulated room.

The entire exhibit spans over 3,00 square feet, with the speakers embedded into the ceiling and the microphones suspended from it. The speakers amplify an audio-loop recording of the words of poets who have been imprisoned, detained, and executed.

The reading of the poetry is in fragments and alternates throughout the room, giving it a surreal emotional impact. The recording is heard in English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Azeri, Hindi, and other languages.

Gupta has often explored incorporating sound into her art. She is best known for requiring her listeners to actively listen to her groundbreaking topics, such as diversity and inclusion.

Peter Halley: Cell Grids

Past the previous exhibit’s eerie room entrance is the brighter display of the bunch. Cell Grids is an exhibit that forces you to be alone in silence with the many walls of grids.

On almost every wall, there is a different grid piece with new colors and orientations. A few grid pieces are all black, but aside from that, no two pieces are the same. Halley chooses to embrace the classic structural grid design in Modern art as well as a wide array of acrylic, fluorescent, and bold colors.

For more than 30 years, he has been best known for blurring the lines between geometrical abstraction and representation.

Renata Morales: Inane and Mundane Evolutionary Tales of Fear, Love, and Horror

Located in another small, insulated room at the back of the building, this exhibit is a spine-tingling experience. Before even entering the room, the haunting static and white noise can be heard in the hallway.

After stepping foot inside, small sculptures can be seen on black stands placed randomly throughout the room. A projector can be seen illuminating the wall straight ahead as cryptic black and white images flash across the screen.

The vibrations in the room can be felt from the noise coming out of the speakers. The mood stems from horror, yet there is a sense of comfortability in the room as well.

This has been a year-long multimedia project in the works by Renata Morales. She has worked for the past ten years in various artmaking endeavors, but this installation marks her first-ever solo museum exhibition.

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