Frye Art Museum

"Empire is equal parts hypnotic and shocking... That experience is quite stimulating."

Theresa Goffredo, Everett Herald


September 20, 2008 – January 4, 2009

Empire features contemporary projected art both metaphorical and documentary examining from many viewpoints the mechanisms of empire building and destruction, modernity and its discontents. Many of these artworks, both single-channel and complex multimedia installations, are presented for the first time in the United States.

Napoleon on the Nile, presented concurrently with Empire, offers a look at an important historical project of stalking, seizure, and specular mastery—what filmmaker and theorist Trinh Minh-ha calls “all-owning-spectatorship.” In contrast, Empire is organized around a question that colonial projects like the Description de l’Égypt, France’s attempt to map and make useful the country of Egypt, raise for contemporary artists. How does one create art today without re-inscribing (colonial) patterns of domination? The projected art here offers complex, even contradictory, figures of difference; provisional notions of identity; mingled pasts and presents; and shifting boundaries of inclusion and exclusion as possible responses to this question.

Robin Held
Frye Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Collections

Empire is curated by Robin Held, chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections.

Listen to a tour of this exhibition wtih Robin Held, Frye chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections, or a conversation with artists Dias & Riedweg on our Podcasts page.

Image credits:
Dias & Riedweg. Funk Staden (detail), 2007. Video installation. 10 x 46 x 46 ft. Image courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.
Halil Altindere. Dengbêjs (still), 2007. Digital video, 15 minutes, 17 seconds. Courtesy of the artist.
Dias & Riedweg. Funk Staden, 2007. Video installation. 10 x 46 x 46 ft. Image courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.
Runa Islam. Be The First To See What You See As You See It, 2004. Edition of 3 16mm film with sound, 7 minutes 30 seconds. © the artist, Courtesy of Jay Jopling and White Cube, London. Photo: Gerry Johansson