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Five things to know about the Carnegie International art exhibition

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Pictured is part of a display titled, “Feminist Responsibility Project,” by Beverly Semmes, which is included in the Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland.

The world’s second-oldest exhibition of international contemporary art opens this weekend at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland.

The Carnegie International, which Andrew Carnegie first put on in Pittsburgh in 1896 in part to help grow the museum’s collection, will be open from Oct. 13 through March 25.

Below, we answer five questions readers might have on the exhibition.

What kind of art is included?

The exhibition includes everything from wooden sculptures from Pittsburgh sculptor Thaddeus Mosley to paintings and cartoons to historical and abstract films on South Korean history by collaborators Han Kang and IM Heung-soon. The works are scattered throughout the museum. Visitors can sit, lie on and walk through some of the pieces.

Who are the artists?

The exhibition showcases the work of 32 artists and art collectives from more than 20 countries. Curator Ingrid Shaffner traveled around the world in 2016 to find the artists. The exhibition comes with a guide that includes essays on each artist’s work.

Is there a theme?

“No,” Shaffner insists. “Not insofar as I went looking for artists whose work represented an idea or a topic or a mood or a theme. But yes, a theme emerged, ready-made, and became a given in the three years that I’ve worked on this exhibition. The very term ‘international’ has gone from sounding faintly quaint to alarmingly pressurized. From the Brexit vote in Britain to the election of strong-man presidents everywhere to the blunt dismantling of international treaties and global alliances, we are living in a world of shifting terrain. And while this isn’t a theme, it is one of the conditions of the Carnegie International. And it’s the artists who bring these conditions — the effects of climate change, colonialism, late capitalism — through their work to the exhibition who make it part of the experience of the international.”

How much does it cost?

The museum’s general admission price includes all the international’s artwork. Entry is $19.95 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students and children.

What if I’m not crazy about contemporary art?

Shaffner suggests the following:

“I hope you’ll recognize a distinction, as I do, between contemporary art — that is made today — and contemporary work; the work of drawing connections across time and space, of creating meaning, constructing new narratives and engaging deeply with objects and ideas. And while I recognize some visitors may have a certain apprehension about contemporary art, we all have the capacity for contemporary work.”

Shaffner said the work could be interpreted through four modes: children, beauty, politics and sound.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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