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Carnegie Museum of Art, VIA come together to spell ‘party’ with ‘art’ |

Carnegie Museum of Art, VIA come together to spell ‘party’ with ‘art’

VIA Festival
Soul singer Kelela
VIA Festival
DJ-art star Juliana Huxtable
Sibilla Calzolari
Danish singer-producer Dinner
VIA Festival
Andrzej Wojtas and Ewelina Aleksandrowicz are Berlin-based artists, collaboratively working within the area of digital media.

Though often combined uncomfortably, “art” and “party” have three letters in common and not much else.

One tends to involve quiet contemplation and, perhaps, some measured discussion. The other, well, doesn’t. The end result is usually pretty watered down, in one direction or the other.

A major exception, around here at least, is anything from the VIA crew — whose annual VIA Festival of beyond-cutting-edge music and new media somehow manages find a rough equilibrium between gallery and the dance floor.

On May 9, the Carnegie Museum of Art will celebrate the first year of the Hillman Photography Initiative, the launch of their print photobook “A People’s History of Pittsburgh,” and the close of the exhibit “Antoine Catala: Distant Feel.”

With an assist from VIA, #NOWSEETHIS should be an amazing party, with live performances by L.A. future-soul star Kelela, Danish singer-producer Dinner and rising DJ/art star Juliana Huxtable. Berlin-based artists Ewelina Aleksandrowicz and Andrej Wojtas are providing video accompaniment, along with Pittsburgh visual artist Kevin Ramser and CMU video and design students.

“I think it’s the collaboration that’s exciting,” VIA co-founder Lauren Goshinski says. “We’re bringing all these young artists that would otherwise never come here. We wouldn’t have been able to do it on our own; the museum couldn’t do it on their own.”

Kelela is on the cusp of actual, not-just-underground, stardom. She just released an EP, “Hallucinogen,” that features a collaboration with the brilliant, young Venezuelan producer Arca, who has worked on ground-breaking recent releases by Kanye West, FKA Twigs and Bjork. If she’s back here again anytime soon, it probably won’t be for $20.

The Polish-born duo of Aleksandrowicz and Wojtas, who are providing the visuals for Kelela, are at a similar place, in the admittedly much more-tight-knit new media/art world. A recent installation covered the all-glass facade of a Berlin building — their signature amorphous, liquid-like images, as faces and bodies melted into ghostly, abstract landscapes.

They’ve been collecting 3-D scans of Pittsburgh people and places to incorporate, which should be interesting.

“Their works span sculpture, digital prints, beautiful prints on fabric, and these computer-generated video-aqua-effects, constantly mutating physical forms and watery, abstract biomorphic forms,” Goshinski says. “High-gloss, very wet, very fluid. I’m interested in seeing what they’ll do with Pittsburgh people — maybe mutating people together?”

The rock band Lower Dens were booked initially, but had to cancel so they could open for a Belle & Sebastian tour of Europe. Instead, there will be Dinner (the Danish experimental pop auteur, not the meal.) New York City’s Juliana Huxtable also has a foot in the art and music worlds, exhibiting in the prestigious New Museum Triennial, while pursuing parallel paths as a DJ, model, writer and activist.

#NOWSEETHIS also features an unusual take on the traditional photo booth by Rollin and Tad Leonard, “CrashKiss,” which digitally crashes two people’s images together “in a surreal kiss.”

“You can contribute your face to this ‘CrashKiss’ archive,” Goshinski says. “All these human elements make it really fun. It’s not like you’re just watching art, but actually participating in its creation.”

A bonus is the venue itself — the foyer and cafe area of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

“(We’re) covering the glass in projection vinyl,” Goshinski says. “The windows are our projection surface. … There will be a bar outside, so you can hang out by the sculpture garden.

“Anywhere else, this would be a $50 ticket. The museum is being ridiculously generous.”

Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7901.

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