"Empire"

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq drags on, as the inflamed Arab Middle East continues to assign that loaded word—occupation—to the Israeli-controlled West Bank territories, the Frye’s new show “Empire” (through Jan. 4) is timely. It runs in tandem with “Napoleon on the Nile,” in which the West stumbles into Egypt and carts away its antiquities for museums back home. As history was once written—and art made—from the colonizer’s point of view, “Empire” inverts that perspective. Young artists from Turkey, Bangladesh, and the former Soviet states of Eastern Europe look back, and upward, at the mechanisms of colonialism (some continued today, albeit under a different name). Most of the work is in contemporary media—film, video, and photography—yet with an historical emphasis. Thus, for instance, the Swiss-Brazilian video and dance piece Funk Staden, which recasts a real-life 16th-century survival narrative—German explorer stranded among godless, bloodthirsty cannibals!—in the favelas of Rio that most of us know only from City of God. It makes you wonder what artists are doing in Iraq right now. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 622-9250, www.fryemuseum.org. Free. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 20. Continues through Jan. 4, 2008

 
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