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Artnet | Tim Schneider  |  July 13, 2018

See Highlights From the Wildly Ambitious, Just-Opened FRONT International Triennial in Cleveland

The FRONT International is nothing if not ambitious.

Fred Bidwell, the Cleveland-based collector, philanthropist, and initial engine of the new exhibition, remarked at Thursday's opening press conference that he envisions the new multi-venue triennial as both an alternative to the art fairs now largely dominating the domestic art conversation and a kind of stateside answer to the German quinquennial exhibition documenta. To paraphrase, if nearly a million people will make a pilgrimage to Kassel every four years solely to experience an experimental contemporary art spectacular, why couldn't they do the same for Cleveland every three years?

Curated by the inimitable Michelle Grabner (following the abrupt departure of her co-curator Jens Hoffman), this first edition of FRONT (subtitled "An American City") actually extends across three different cities in Northeast Ohio. So what you see below is just the first taste: I'm set to travel to Akron, Oberlin, and a few satellite sites in Cleveland to soak up much more of the work by a staggering 110 artists across 28 venues.

Highlights include a 48-foot-long bookshelf assembled by Yinka Shonibare that contains thousands of books stamped with the names of first- and second-generation immigrants and Michael Rakowitz's participatory, citywide artwork that seeks to remove all orange-colored objects from the city. The work is a response to the 2014 fatal shooting by a police officer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a toy gun with its orange safety cap removed.

While I try to process two jam-packed days of viewing into some legitimately cohesive thoughts, here are a selection of photos from some of the major sites in and around downtown Cleveland to whet your appetite. The FRONT triennial opens to the public on Saturday.

SPACES Gallery


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