The new “Illustrious Mr. X: Museum Collection as Character Study” exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (SDMA) takes a different approach from other exhibits in the museum’s permanent collection.
Rather than have the collection organized by artist, theme or medium, Greg Slick and Karlos Carcamo curated the exhibit as the autobiography of the fictional character the “Illustrious Mr. X,” using photos, paintings and other media from different periods and styles to describe him.
The exhibit opens with a message from Mr. X describing himself and features an explanation of the display. The exhibit is set up into eight chapters: origins, food, books, music, sports, shopping, relationships, fantasies and dreams. Each chapter is also accompanied by a short statement from Mr. X explaining its theme and a small bit of information about his life.
In the music chapter, Mr. X shows his love of jazz by portraying pictures of different jazz musicians and venues they have played at. The other chapters work similarly to this one but with their own theme.
Previously, Slick and Carcamo ran a gallery called “Go North – A Space for Contemporary Art” in Beacon, N.Y., for several years. Instead of representing a core group of artists, the gallery displayed different exhibitions by different artists each month.
SDMA director Sara Pasti visited “Go North” several times. After showing interest in Slick and Carcamo’s work, Pasti asked them to curate a show for the SDMA.
The pair started thinking of a concept when they first viewed the museum’s collection on the online database. While looking through the collection, Carcamo said he realized that they would have to develop a theme that was broad enough to encompass the diversity of the museum’s collection.
“It was overwhelming at first, to be honest, Carcamo said, to come up with a theme that can give you the flexibility to include work in different mediums, historical periods and still maintain some sort of unity.”
After getting the initial idea for the show, Slick and Carcamo spent several months fleshing out the concept for what the exhibit was eventually to become.
The first volume of the “Illustrious Mr. X” will continue to be on display at SDMA until Dec. 12. A second volume will open on Jan. 26, 2011 and will include several new chapters in the autobiography of Mr. X.