Berlin-based artist Shahryar Nashat examines how contemporary representations of human bodies imitate the model of perfection idealized in visual and intellectual culture through art history, fashion, modern dance, and sports. His work draws attention to the impossibility of the human body to conform to notions of perfection.
In conjunction with his first solo exhibition in the United States, Shahryar Nashat: Skins and Stand-ins, on view October 29, 2015 through January 10, 2016 at Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the artist has installed works from the museums’ collections in this sculpture gallery. Amid the molded and cast faces and bodies of 20th-century symbolist and expressionist sculpture, visitors are encouraged to sit on the artist’s newly commissioned sculpture-bench Repose on Display. Adapting the ubiquitous forms of museum exhibition display—plinths, pedestals, lighting, and benches—Nashat inserts spectators into the overall installation. Here, the visitor becomes both viewer and performer seated before representations of bodies from the history of art comparably situated on museum display apparatus.
This installation is supported by the Charles L. Kuhn Endowment Fund. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.