A 'Non-Happening' to happen with performance at International

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Performance art is one of the most difficult forms of contemporary expression to represent in a large and long-running survey exhibition such as the Carnegie International. Because it's live it is not feasible, economically and practically, to offer performance regularly during a several-month run.

Sometimes performances are taped early on and their filmic renditions are shown thereafter, but performance -- as any theatrical expression -- is best in the flesh. The 2013 International offered several performances during its October opening weekend. Another, "Non-Happening After Ad Reinhardt," by exhibiting artist Pierre Leguillon, will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

When one thinks of artist Ad Reinhardt (1913-67), the first thing that comes to mind are the all-black canvases he painted in the 1960s. That's not what you'll see this weekend. Less known is an archive of 10,000 photographic slides by the artist, now at the Ad Reinhardt Foundation in New York, that he would occasionally present in part as slide shows. That is the inspiration for Mr. Leguillon's performance during which he will show 350 slides from the Reinhardt archive.

He will be joined afterward by Carnegie Museum of Art director Lynn Zelevansky to discuss Mr. Reinhardt's artwork.

Mr. Leguillon, a French native who resides in Belgium, is "an artist, curator and writer who has become known for transforming the slide-lecture format into an enlightening, poetic and witty form of performance art," according to the museum website.

He is represented in the International by two installations. "A Vivarium for George E. Ohr" includes archival imagery and several uniquely fashioned pots by the eccentric late Southern potter. "Jean Dubuffet Typographer" presents the late French artist as an entrepreneur and forerunner to contemporary self-promoters like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.

Mr. Leguillon has performed "Non-Happening" in London, New York City, Paris and San Francisco. The London venue, Raven Row, wrote on its website:

"From eyewitness accounts it has been established that Reinhardt's slide shows consisted of a rapid succession of details of art, decorative art and architecture, photographed during his many travels abroad. Constructing a formal analysis of artistic creation over centuries, they seemed to follow George Kubler's hypothesis in 'The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things' that there is no progress in art. By framing his shots so as to reveal hidden or overlooked aspects of cultural artifacts, Reinhardt also offered a global 'reading' of the history of art, anticipating today's image search engines."

Performance tickets are $25, $15 students, $20 museum members, and include one drink ticket. A reception follows. Preregistration is required, at 412-622-3288, and seating is limited.

Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: mthomas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1925.

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