North America’s longest-running survey of contemporary art (since 1896) will return this year to the Carnegie Museum of Art from Sept. 24 through April 2, 2023 — and once again the exhibition will go beyond the museum walls.

The 58th Carnegie International is curated by Sohrab Mohebbi (curator-at-large at the SculptureCenter in New York City), who has been assembling the show since 2020.

“The pandemic has set in motion practices of solitude and solidarity; perhaps we can think of these practices as the way of the artist and the struggle of the activist,” says Mohebbi. “Never before have these two positions been more aligned on such a planetary scale. The artist’s primary material is the use of their time, while an activist shares their time with others and distributes it. In the making of this exhibition, our hope is to sync our clocks with both.”

Highlights of the Carnegie International (which were revealed at a press conference on Thursday) include a new commission from Berlin-based collective terra0.

terra0, “Premna Daemon,” 2018. Photo © Stephan Baumann.

“For the Carnegie International, terra0 proposed an augmented tree that owns its land,” says Mohebbi. “The project entails a tree that will be planted on a plot of land donated by the Community College of Allegheny County on the North Side. The tree will be granted ownership of the land that it’s planted on, and managed by a smart contract by blockchain technology. In exchange for services like upkeep, watering, pruning, the tree will mint what they call ‘Certificates of Care’ that will given to the museum. This project is relevant to broad environmental concerns, it is particularly relevant to Pennsylvania, which has lost a large percentage of its forest to the logging industry in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Other highlights outside of the gallery walls include works by Pittsburgh-born artists James “Yaya” Hough, who will paint a mural in the Hill District; Cuban-American artist Rafael Domenech, who will build an ellipse-shaped pavilion in the museum’s sculpture courtyard; and Tony Cokes, who will create work for four digital billboards on Route 28 and a video installation at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

James “Yaya” Hough, “Portrait of Michael Smokey Wilson” from the series “Points of Connection,” 2020. Photo by Akeil Robertson.
Portrait of Michael Smokey Wilson” from the series “Points of Connection,” 2020. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

Mohebbi is working with a Pittsburgh-based curatorial team, which includes associate curator Ryan Inouye and curatorial assistant Talia Heiman on research, artist selection, public programs and publication projects for the International.

A four-person curatorial council of artists helped shape the exhibition, bringing perspectives from all over the world, including Freya Chou (Hong Kong), Renée Akitelek Mboya (Kenya), Robert M. Ochshorn (San Francisco), and Pablo José Ramírez (Guatemala/Amsterdam).

The Carnegie International Advisory Group includes curator and editor Thiago de Paula Souza, Vietnam-based curator and writer Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần and Southeast Asia-based researcher and curator Renan Laru-an.

“The 58th Carnegie International team is catalyzing international curatorial research at a level that is unprecedented for this 125-year-old exhibition series,” says Eric Crosby, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art.

“Mohebbi and his collaborators — dispersed around the globe — are working to realize an exhibition that will be expansive in its geopolitical scope as well as responsive to local concerns. Their research will have a lasting impact on the legacy of the Carnegie International and the future of our museum.”

“Anybody who studies contemporary art knows that this is the history of contemporary art,” says Mohebbi. “Dealing with this exhibition is integral to it.”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.