The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is like a smaller, more idiosyncratic version of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts: its ethnographic collections are less comprehensive than the MFA’s but, largely because of that, are far more manageable to navigate over the course of a long afternoon. Of particular interest to me, they recently had a show on Nick Cave’s Soundsuits. The artist describes his soundsuits as, “wearable fabric sculptures” but I describe them as a mix between Ghillie Suits and the furniture of the Campana Brothers (see below).
Unfortunately, I went two days after that exhibition closed, but fortunately the Toshio Shibata exhibition was open (and will be until the end of the year). If you are not familiar with Shibata’s work, he takes stunning photographs of the Japanese landscape that highlight the coexistence of nature and human-made infrastructures. The exhibition shows 25 photos from two distinct phases of his 30+ year career: his black and white photos from the late 80s / early 90s and his color photos from the last decade. Its interesting to see his photos in contrast with the “ruin porn” photos that have saturated the media in the last few years (Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s photos of Detroit come to mind). Shibata’s photos seem observant rather than spectacular; they open themselves to different readings, rather than presenting one “correct” reading. But don’t take my word for it, go!