See Highlights From the Wildly Ambitious, Just-Opened FRONT International Triennial in Cleveland

Curated by Michelle Grabner, the exhibition debuts across Northeast Ohio with works by Kerry James Marshall, Michael Rakowitz, and many more.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.
Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

The FRONT International is nothing if not ambitious.

Fred Bidwell, the Cleveland-based collector, philanthropist, and initial engine of the new exhibition, remarked at Thursday’s opening press conference that he envisions the new multi-venue triennial as both an alternative to the art fairs now largely dominating the domestic art conversation and a kind of stateside answer to the German quinquennial exhibition documenta. To paraphrase, if nearly a million people will make a pilgrimage to Kassel every four years solely to experience an experimental contemporary art spectacular, why couldn’t they do the same for Cleveland every three years?

Curated by the inimitable Michelle Grabner (following the abrupt departure of her co-curator Jens Hoffman), this first edition of FRONT (subtitled “An American City”) actually extends across three different cities in Northeast Ohio. So what you see below is just the first taste: I’m set to travel to Akron, Oberlin, and a few satellite sites in Cleveland to soak up much more of the work by a staggering 110 artists across 28 venues.

Highlights include a 48-foot-long bookshelf assembled by Yinka Shonibare that contains thousands of books stamped with the names of first- and second-generation immigrants and Michael Rakowitz’s participatory, citywide artwork that seeks to remove all orange-colored objects from the city. The work is a response to the 2014 fatal shooting by a police officer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a toy gun with its orange safety cap removed.

While I try to process two jam-packed days of viewing into some legitimately cohesive thoughts, here are a selection of photos from some of the major sites in and around downtown Cleveland to whet your appetite. The FRONT triennial opens to the public on Saturday.

SPACES Gallery

Michael Rakowitz, <i>A Color Removed</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz, A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz, <i>A Color Removed</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz, A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz, <i>A Color Removed</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz, A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz with Samaria Rice, A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Contribution to A Color Removed by Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, 2018.

Michael Rakowitz, A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Michael Rakowitz, A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Repository for orange objects for Michael Rakowitz’s A Color Removed, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Cleveland Museum of Art

Allen Ruppersberg, <i>Then and Now</i>, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. July 1, 2018–December 2, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Allen Ruppersberg, Then and Now, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. July 1, 2018–December 2, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Allen Ruppersberg, <i>Then and Now</i>, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. July 1, 2018–December 2, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Allen Ruppersberg, Then and Now, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. July 1, 2018–December 2, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Allen Ruppersberg, <i>Then and Now</i>, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. July 1, 2018–December 2, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Allen Ruppersberg, Then and Now, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. July 1, 2018–December 2, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Marlon de Azambuja, <i>Brutalismo-Cleveland</i>, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. June 3, 2018–December 30, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Marlon de Azambuja, Brutalismo-Cleveland, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. June 3, 2018–December 30, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Marlon de Azambuja, Brutalismo-Cleveland, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. June 3, 2018–December 30, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Marlon de Azambuja, Brutalismo-Cleveland, 2018. Installation view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. June 3, 2018–December 30, 2018. Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Kerry James Marshall, <i>Untitled</i>, 1999. Collection of the Orlando Museum of Art. Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition Trust. Photo: Howard Agriesti. © Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled, 1999. Collection of the Orlando Museum of Art. Purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition Trust. Photo: Howard Agriesti. © Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

 

William G. Mather Steamship at the Great Lakes Science Center

William G. Mather Steamship at the Great Lakes Science Center. Photo by Tim Schneider.

William G. Mather Steamship at the Great Lakes Science Center. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Allan Sekula, <i>The Lottery of the Sea</i>, 2006. Installation view inside the William G. Mather Steamship. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Allan Sekula, The Lottery of the Sea, 2006. Installation view inside the William G. Mather Steamship. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Allan Sekula, <i>The Lottery of the Sea</i>, 2006. Installation view inside the William G. Mather Steamship. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Allan Sekula, The Lottery of the Sea, 2006. Installation view inside the William G. Mather Steamship. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Allan Sekula, <i>The Lottery of the Sea</i>, 2006. Installation view inside the William G. Mather Steamship. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Allan Sekula, The Lottery of the Sea, 2006. Installation view inside the William G. Mather Steamship. Photo by Tim Schneider.

 

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, <i>Volatility Smile 3</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, Volatility Smile 3, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, <i>Volatility Smile 3</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, Volatility Smile 3, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, <i>Volatility Smile 3</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, Volatility Smile 3, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, <i>Volatility Smile 3</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, Volatility Smile 3, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, <i>Volatility Smile 3</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, Volatility Smile 3, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, <i>Volatility Smile 3</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Philip Vanderhyden, Volatility Smile 3, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Cleveland Public Library

Yinka Shonibare MBE, <i>The American Library</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, <i>The American Library</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, <i>The American Library</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, <i>The American Library</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, <i>The American Library</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The American Library, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Toby’s Plaza at Case Western Reserve University

Tony Tasset, <i>Judy's Hand Pavilion</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Tony Tasset, Judy’s Hand Pavilion, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Tony Tasset, <i>Judy's Hand Pavilion</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Tony Tasset, Judy’s Hand Pavilion, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Tony Tasset, <i>Judy's Hand Pavilion</i>, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Tony Tasset, Judy’s Hand Pavilion, 2018. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, <i>Civil War</i>, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, <i>Civil War</i>, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, <i>Civil War</i>, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, <i>Civil War</i>, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, <i>Civil War</i>, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, <i>Civil War</i>, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Josh Kline, Civil War, 2017. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. July 14-September 30, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, New York. Photography by Field Studio.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. July 14-September 30, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, New York. Photography by Field Studio.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

Martine Syms, Installation view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. Photo by Tim Schneider.

“An American City,” FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is on view at various locations across Northeast Ohio from July 14 to September 30, 2018. 


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