After the inaugural Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art got pushed back from an initial launch date in 2021, the organization announced that its first edition will now take place in 2023 and will centered around the theme of “RE-PAIR.” Now scheduled to open in January 2023 and then run more than three months into May, the Tennessee Triennial will spread out into different venues in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.
Overseeing it all as consulting curator will be María Magdalena Campos-Pons, an artist and professor of fine arts at Vanderbilt University who is also the founder of the Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice (a “trans-institutional initiative” in Nashville) as well as GASP Gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Intermittent Rivers, a biennial project in Matanzas, Cuba. Campos-Pons has also exhibited work of her own in international showcases including Documenta and the Venice Biennale.
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The presence of Campos-Pons marks an update from initial plans, first made public in 2019, for the Tennessee Triennial to be directed by Andrea Zieher of New York’s ZieherSmith gallery along with co-curators Lauren Haynes and Teka Selman. As was planned from the start, the triennial will be presented by the Tennessee-based organization Tri-Star Arts, which administers exhibition programs, artist studios, and related operations in different cities across the state.
A description of the 2023 Tennessee Triennial’s theme reads, in part, “To heal, suture, and recompose fractured bodies. We propose a new site of encounters, with yet undefined edges, borders, territories. These will be cartographies of the mind as well as geographies of the land.” It continues: “RE-PAIR asks you to pledge, to reconsider the function of the arts, the meaning of art as a critical force in society and enhancer of human experiences. Can Art galvanize our energies to rebuild our towns with forums, and ideas that bring solutions to isolation, poverty, despair?”
Venues for the exhibition will include the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Frist Art Museum, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, the Parthenon Museum, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Big Ears Festival, among others engaged through some 16 partnering organizations.