Earlier this year I met with Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art director Mark Sloan and manager of outreach and engagement Lizz Biswell. The two excitedly shared the Halsey’s upcoming exhibits — from the passion of emerging artists in Young Contemporaries to the raw realities of the Southern United States in Southbound, each exhibit piques the interest of art lovers of all stripes.
But the exhibit Sloan and Biswell were most excited about is one that opens this May in conjunction with Piccolo Spoleto, The Carrion Cheer: A Faunistic Tragedy, the first United States solo exhibition from artists Matthias Böhler and Christian Orendt, curated by the Halsey’s manager of exhibitions and programs, Bryan Granger.

The reason for Sloan and Biswell’s excitement? Well, it’s likely got a lot to do with the uncertain nature of the exhibit — neither the Halsey nor the artists, Böhler and Orendt, know exactly what will happen. Here’s the deal: Böhler and Orendt (who are currently in town building components of the exhibit) are constructing a “makeshift trans-dimensional stopover camp,” featuring several tents that guests can walk through.

The tents feature apparitions of extinct animals — hence the ‘faunistic tragedy’ in the exhibit’s title — like Steller’s Sea Cow, the Carolina Parakeet, and the Pinta Island Tortoise. The apparitions appear as projections on a screen of mist. Which is really cool.

And did we mention the aural aspect? Bohler and Orendt plan on having the apparitions of extinct animals appear in chorus to sing a song of forgiveness to humans — cue the waterworks, y’all. Speaking of humans, Carrion Cheer comments on the human condition as well, with the exhibit’s description reading, “The installation comments on the plight of refugees in the West by creating a stopover camp in the galleries. Addressing an increasingly politicized issue of refugees, this installation will provoke viewers to contemplate their own relationships with the communities, environments, and issues that comprise our global social fabric.”

The Carrion Cheer: A Faunistic Tragedy opens at the Halsey on Fri. May 18 at 6:30 p.m. with a free reception, open to the public. Learn more about the exhibit on Sat. May 19 at 2 p.m. with a free artist talk with Böhler and Orendt. 

After its debut at the Halsey Institute, The Carrion Cheer will be exhibited at the Kunsthalle Göppingen, in Göppingen, Germany.

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