June 26, 2024

Agustina Woodgate: Ballroom

by cns2020

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On View: August 3, 2024 – February 23, 2025

SALEM, MA – This summer, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents an intriguing Argentinian artist, Agustina Woodgate, installation. Titled Ballroom, this exhibit invites visitors to rethink the significance of maps and globes. In this installation, the gallery floor is covered with globes that have been meticulously sanded to erase all geographical information, turning these once-informative objects into silent artifacts.

Trevor Smith, PEM’s Associate Director of Multisensory Experience and Curator of the Present Tense reflects, “Agustina Woodgate’s erosion of familiar geography disorients us. Does her erasure of landmarks and country borders signal our common humanity? Or is the lack of familiar shorelines and mountain ranges a premonition of a world under siege from human carelessness? Ballroom allows us to sit in the space between these interpretations.”

Located in PEM’s Beale Gallery, Ballroom is exhibited alongside historical navigational instruments from the museum’s collection, highlighting the transition from traditional tools to modern digital navigation. Smith notes, “Across cultures and through time, humans have told stories to make sense of unknown environments or unexpected situations. Centuries ago, mariners charted trade routes across unfamiliar oceans in the service of empires. What was once revolutionary technological tools are now outdated in the era of global satellite navigation systems. The seas on which today’s fortunes rise and fall might be made of data, but the stories we tell ourselves about where we came from and where we are going remain as important as ever.”

The exhibit also features a new video work by Woodgate, created in collaboration with artist and programmer Błażej Kotowski. In this piece, artificial intelligence is used to recreate an erased atlas, producing uncanny and insightful images. Woodgate explains, “This system reverse-engineered the operation I did when I erased the Times Atlas of the World. It renders a new image of the world that is no longer an object of colonial expansion, but a combination of tangible geography, artistic imagination, and neural net learning.”

Born in Buenos Aires in 1981, Woodgate splits her time between Amsterdam and Buenos Aires. She is renowned for her public installations that explore social issues by examining the relationships between people and institutions. Her work has been featured in prestigious venues such as the Bienal de las Américas in Denver, ArtPort in Tel Aviv, PlayPublik in Poland, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in Washington, DC, The Bass Museum of Art in Miami, Kulturpark in Berlin, and Mass MoCA in Massachusetts. Woodgate previously showcased a series of rugs made from deconstructed plush toys in PEM’s 2018 PlayTime exhibition.

Agustina Woodgate: Ballroom will be on view at PEM from August 3, 2024, through February 23, 2025. Follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #AgustinaWoodgate.

Sponsors
Agustina Woodgate: Ballroom is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation make this exhibition possible. We thank James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Chip and Susan Robie, and Timothy T. Hilton for supporting the Exhibition Innovation Fund. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Image Credit
Agustina Woodgate, Ballroom, 2014. Installation view at the Faena Art Center, Buenos Aires. Gift of Anthony Spinello. 2018.40.1-101. Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Ronnie Arnold, courtesy of Spinello Projects. © Agustina Woodgate.

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Peabody Essex Museum

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The mission of the Peabody Essex Museum is to celebrate outstanding artistic and cultural creativity by collecting, stewarding and interpreting objects of art and culture in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind and stimulate the senses. Through its exhibitions, programs, publications, media and related activities, PEM strives to create experiences that transform people’s lives by broadening
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