artnet  |  July 25, 2022

‘I Believe Strongly in Vulnerability’: Curator Prem Krishnamurthy on What Cleveland’s FRONT Triennial Can Teach About the Healing Power of Art

The night the newest edition of the FRONT International opened in Cleveland, the show’s curator, Prem Krishnamurthy, could be found at karaoke bar called Tina’s, belting out a beery rendition of Britney Spears’s Toxic. Before him was a rag-tag crowd of local barflies, goth kids, rust-belt cowboys, baseball bros—as well as a cadre of the international art world there for the show. Everyone was singing along.

Tina’s wasn’t one of the official sites of the triennial exhibition (which is funny, because seemingly every other venue in Northeast Ohio is), but Krishnamurthy called the event the “crux of the show.”

“Karaoke,” he said, “can be such a leveling force. There, in that big room, there are all these different people you don’t know, but everybody’s cheering each other on. When somebody sings, everybody else claps for them and everybody else joins in. To me, that is beautiful.”

Positive are the vibes conjured by Krishnamurthy’s edition of FRONT, the second since the Cleveland-based event was founded in 2018. The show, titled “Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows,” spans dozens of venues across Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin, and features work by more than 100 artists both local and international, alive and dead. All of it coalesces around the curatorial conceit of the show, which is about embracing “art as an agent of transformation, a mode of healing, and a therapeutic process.”

The title comes from “Two Somewhat Different Epigrams,” a 1957 poem by Langston Hughes, who spent his teen years in Cleveland and whose presence remains strong in the city:


Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see

That without dust the rainbow would not be.


I look with awe upon the human race

And God, Who sometimes spits right in its face.

Turning to art for regeneration and repair feels on brand for 2022, but Krishnamurthy and his team actually settled on that theme back in 2019. After the show’s busy opening weekend, Krishnamurthy spoke with Artnet News about the evolution of that and the other ideas at the heart of his ambitious triennial.

By Taylor Dafoe, artnet

Original Article

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