Third Space Opening This Month

/ Exhibitions

Mpangui jimagua (Twin Brothers) by José Bedia
José Bedia (Cuban, active United States, born 1959), Mpangui jimagua (Twin Brothers), 2000, acrylic and conte on canvas with objects, Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art; Museum purchase with funds provided by the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art in honor of Pauline Ireland; 2000.84a-b; © José Bedia

As the first major exhibition of contemporary art from the Museum’s own collection, Third Space /shifting conversations about contemporary art, brings together the work of more than 90 international artists to examine elements of a shared cultural experience between the American South and the Global South. Third Space features over 150 works of art in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video, by artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Ebony G. Patterson, Mark Bradford, José Bedia, Thornton Dial, and William Christenberry.

Curated by Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary art Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the exhibition borrows Homi Bhaba’s term ‘third space,’ which he defines as a space that “challenges our sense of the historical identity of culture as a homogenizing, unifying force, authenticated by the originary past, kept alive in the national tradition of the People.”

Ghetto Wall #1, David C. Driskell, oil and collage on canvas
David C. Driskell (American, born 1931), Ghetto Wall #1, 1971, oil and collage on canvas, Gift of the 1972 Festival of the Arts and A.G. Gaston Purchase Award. 1972.8
Copyright David C. Driskell. Courtesy of the artist.

Beyond the geographical boundaries of the American South, the Global South similarly represents marginalized people and places that share a common post-colonial heritage, similar patterns of migration, and other cultural connections. With this in mind, the exhibition examines the Global South from the perspective of the American South by working through a series of ideas that include:

migration/diaspora/exile, gaze/agency/representation, spirit/nature/landscape, and traditions/histories/memory.

In addition to works from the permanent collection, the BMA has commissioned Rural Studio to produce a work of art that can serve as a gathering space within the gallery designed for reflection and contemplation. Rural Studio, founded and headquartered in nearby Hale County, Alabama, is an off-campus, design-build program of Auburn University that provides architectural solutions to underserved populations across the country. In the past year, Rural Studio has participated in several prestigious exhibitions, including the Milan Triennale, and they were selected as the only representative from the United States to present at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Once the exhibition closes, the structure that Rural Studio completes for Third Space will be repurposed for the construction of a house for one of its projects.

Red Trailer, Livingston, Alabama, 1976, William Christenberry, chromogenic print
William Christenberry (American, 1936-2016), Red Trailer, Livingston, Alabama, 1976; printed 2002, chromogenic print, Gift of Maria and Lee Friedlander; 2004.14

A key component of Third Space will be a program series titled Chapters, which invites artists and curators from across the country to Birmingham to discuss their respective practices and ideas surrounding the exhibition. Six Chapters programs will take place over the course of the two-year exhibition and will include artists working in a range of disciplines with varying backgrounds, from those academically trained to those self-taught. The exhibition will be outfitted with various interpretation tools to assist visitors in navigating the gallery. Using their mobile devices, visitors can learn more about works in the exhibition through the BMA’s Smart Guide, through which they may listen to different perspectives on selected works of art from voices of the Birmingham community.

Third Space is presented by:

Additional support provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, City of Birmingham, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Protective Life Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company Foundation, Robert R. Meyer Foundation, Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Lydia Eustis Rogers Fund, and Friends of Third Space.