"Watch Me Move" Exhibition at Nashville's Frist Center Offers Immersive Animation Experience Spanning History of Medium

Watch Me Move: The Animation Show June 6-September 1, 2014

Apr 07, 2014, 13:30 ET from Frist Center for the Visual Arts

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This summer the Frist Center for the Visual Arts comes alive with the installation of Watch Me Move: The Animation Show, the most extensive exhibition ever mounted to present a wide range of animated imagery produced in the last 120 years. Organized by the Barbican Centre, London, the exhibition juxtaposes works by pioneers and independent film-makers including Étienne-Jules Marey, Max Fleischer, and Lotte Reiniger with the creative output of commercial studios such as Disney, Studio Ghibli and Pixar. It also includes works by major contemporary artists such as William Kentridge and Nathalie Djurberg. As part of an acclaimed international tour, Watch Me Move will be on view in the Frist Center's Ingram Gallery from June 6–September 1, 2014. 

Presenting animation as a highly influential force in the development of global visual culture, Watch Me Move explores the relationship between animation and film and offers a timely insight into the genre as a cultural phenomenon. "While we often think of animation as an art form for children, this exhibition acknowledges its appeal to all generations and cultures from the United States and Europe to Japan and China," says Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. "Most of the works comprise family entertainment, which is often hilarious and ingenious. Even films with purely aesthetic aims, or with mature and socially critical content, will change the way people appreciate many of the most creative, yet often unheralded, masters of the medium."

The show features 85 works, from iconic clips to lesser-known masterpieces. Mr. Scala describes the potential experience: "As visitors move through galleries illuminated with the glow of screens and projections, we foresee them experiencing delight in the familiar mingled with pleasure at the imaginative productions of artists and filmmakers who have never achieved a wide audience. From wonder and laughter to provocation and contemplation, even a little shock, Watch Me Move inspires a surprising range of emotions."

Transforming the gallery into an immersive environment, the exhibition is divided into six thematic groupings: Apparitions, Fables and Fragments, Structures, Characters, Superhumans and Modern Visions. The first section, Apparitions, focuses on the emergence of the animated image with its roots in photographer Eadweard Muybridge's now iconic split-second frame images of animals and humans in motion. Max Fleischer, considered the father of modern character animation for his pioneering techniques and sense of humor, is represented by his Out of the Inkwell (1918–29) series characters Betty Boop and Koko the Clown. 

The technical and artistic qualities of animation, in all its forms, have made it the ideal medium to interpret myths, fables, and fairy tales. Fables and Fragments demonstrates how animators including Walt Disney and Peter Jackson have tapped a deep collective well in bringing powerful archetypal stories from around the world to generations of viewers. Chinese animators including Wan Gu Chan and Wan Lai Ming and the Japanese Studio Ghibli have also turned to their respective culture's story traditions for inspiration.  

While much animation is aimed at storytelling, the section Structures focuses on avant-garde artists who have long delighted in manipulating film's most basic properties—form, color, sound, movement and duration—to create dynamic aesthetic experiences. Today, digitalization provides an expanded toolkit, as seen in the collaborative group Semiconductor's Matter in Motion, which comprises a series of fanciful structural interventions, dissolving and reforming within the urban landscape, as if to emphasize its transience.

The clips in Characters feature some of the biggest stars of animation. The 1930s saw a shift to standardized formats built around characters such as Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, and Felix the Cat. The focus on individual personality continued with the rise of TV cartoons, in which Fred and Wilma Flintstone, George Jetson, and Yogi Bear reflected the mores of the 1960s. More recently, characters like the Simpsons and the cast of South Park have been vehicles for social satire. John Lasseter's first film for Pixar Animation Studios, Luxo Jr., (1986), follows the antics of a small desk lamp, as its elder lamp affectionately looks on. A sustained development of personality appears in such animations as Pixar's Toy Story trilogy (1995/1999/2010), in which Woody and his cohort are shown as complex and compelling virtual beings. This section also includes less well-known characters, showing the power of animation to convey social and political issues.

Characters with extraordinary powers are a staple of post-World War II animation. The protagonists of Superhumans tend to be ordinary humans, who have been possessed or traumatized beyond the realm of normal experience such as the Hulk, an ordinary young man whose body is chemically altered, giving him remarkable strengths coupled with a profound sense of alienation. Other highlights include, Astro Boy, 1963–66, set in a futuristic city in 2030, featuring the amazing adventures of a child robot with superpowers. While culturally specific, as in Japanese manga and anime or America's Marvel comics, the appeal of superhumans is international in scope.

The exhibition concludes with Modern Visions, which includes works by contemporary artists who address adult themes of war, sexuality and various aspects of cultural dissonance. RMB City (2009) depicts the online world of Second Life, conceived by Beijing artist Cao Fei (aka China Tracy) as a place for participants to create a parallel reality in which to live out their dreams. Such works demonstrate the blurred lines between life and art engendered by today's technology, while reminding viewers that animation is not just for children.

Watch Me Move: The Animation Show is organized by Barbican Centre, London and was curated by Greg Hilty and Barbican Art Gallery.  

The exhibition is accompanied by an array of public programs and a catalogue published by a fully illustrated book, edited by Greg Hilty and Alona Pardo, with texts by Suzanne Buchan, Greg Hilty and Paul Wells. Published by Merrell in association with Barbican Art Gallery.

Exhibition Credit

Watch Me Move: The Animation Show is organized by Barbican Centre, London.
The Barbican Centre is provided by the City of London Corporation.

Platinum Sponsor: The HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA and TriStar Health

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. The Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center's Martin ArtQuest Gallery (open until 5:30 p.m. each day) features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Information on accessibility at the Frist Center is found at www.fristcenter.org/accessibility. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 59 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247. The Frist Center galleries, Café and Gift Shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.9 p.m. and Sundays, 15:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our website at www.fristcenter.org.

SOURCE Frist Center for the Visual Arts