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Loyola University New Orleans Hosts “The Evil Genius of a King”

Loyola press release - January 9, 2018

Loyola University New Orleans’ Collins C. Diboll Art Gallery welcomes a new temporary exhibition titled “The Evil Genius of a King." The show, based on the title of a famous work by the 20th-century Italian painter Giorgio di Chirico, a founder of the surrealistic movement, runs from Thursday, Jan. 25 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 in the Diboll Gallery, located on the fourth floor of the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library at Loyola, 6363 St. Charles Ave. An opening reception runs from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. Both the event and show are free and open to the public.

Conceptual in nature, the exhibition presents images of 110 slides deaccessioned from a Minnesota state university art and art history slide collection by New York-based conceptual artist Matthew Bakkom. Art history — its methodologies, technologies, transmission, and reception, as well as our ways of ordering and disordering the received historical narratives and contemplating images both famous and obscure — lies at the heart of this popular show, which has previously appeared in St. Cloud, Minn. and New York City.

Bakkom received a collection of approximately 10,000 slides used to teach art history, whittled them down, and generated his own survey through the history of art, completely avoiding the traditional classifications of eras and movements and associations through style, influences, and traditions. Instead, the conceptual artist embarked on his own search for “the evil genius of a king” in his survey — and interpreted the collection through chance juxtapositions and natural affinities. Connections are drawn in a variety of ways, from linguistic puns between caption information, to formal relationships between images and associations seen in image content.

“Drawing on an outdated technology for teaching art history, Bakkom combined photographs of the illuminated transparent slides themselves and of their notated slide casings to create unique images that normally you’d never see at the same time and proposed arrangements of the images based on criteria other than the typical ones scholars used to order and explain art. By allowing for a seemingly infinite number of potential arrangements and juxtapositions, Bakkom disrupts and circumvents art history’s traditional narratives and introduces variability, and randomness, into an enterprise that both human thinking and technology have tended to present as linear and fixed,” said Fr. Gregory Waldrop, S.J., Ph.D., chair of Loyola’s one-year-old art department. “The result is eye-opening. The pedagogical tools that we use typically affect how we interpret the art. By changing the way images are sequenced and arranged, we expand the opportunities for interpreting these works.”

The variability of the sequencing of images in this show also lends itself to student involvement, Waldrop said. Loyola’s Art Department has taken the opportunity to enlist a committee of student curators, all of whom are either art history minors or students who have indicated their interest in the minor and have taken several art history courses. The student curators will determine the final arrangement of the images to be installed at Loyola.

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