“Throwing Up Bunnies”: Addison Experiments With Alternative Art in New Exhibition

Layers of fabrics decorated with rich colors, flowery patterns, and eccentric textures hung from the ceiling, unveiling the center room of the Addison Gallery of American Art’s new exhibition “Throwing Up Bunnies: The Irreverent Interlopings of Triple Candie, 2001-2016.”

The “Throwing Up Bunnies” exhibition spans five rooms, with each room representing a separate act of the theatrical-like exhibit. The exhibit was organized by a research-oriented art agency called Triple Candie and the Fall 2016 Edward E. Elson Artists-in-Residence, formed by Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett ’84. “Throwing Up Bunnies” opened last Friday evening on the second floor of the Addison. The exhibit presents Triple Candie’s journey from 2001, when they opened their first non-profit gallery in Harlem, to 2016 with elements from their current exhibitions in the States and Europe.

“We jointly feel that the curtain in the main room is the most significant, for a variety of reasons including its powerful — and we hope pleasing — presence; its history, three years in the making, and shown in various states of completion at three separate art venues, and because it is the glue that holds everything together, conceptually,” wrote Nesbett in an email to The Phillipian.

The exhibition’s title, “Throwing Up Bunnies,” was inspired by the short story “Letter to a Young Lady in Paris” by Julio Cortazar about a translator house-sitting for an aristocratic lady in Buenos Aires. The translator accidentally vomits eleven fluffy rabbits that then wreck the entire place, chewing off leather books and knocking table lamps to the floor. The narrator does his best to halt the disorder, unsuccessfully.

“The bunnies have sort of jumped into the museum and taken over and disrupted the usual order and sort of turned your expectations upside down… because they’ve kind of come in and introduced chaos into the normally ordered, serene museum,” said Kemmerer, Curator of Art after 1950 and of Photography at the Addison. “It’s hard to know whether Triple Candie sees themselves as the narrator of the story or the rabbits.”

Behind the curtains in the center room of “Throwing Up Bunnies,” whimsical sculptures resembling baby rabbits hang from the ceiling, stuffed with soft foam and covered with pastel pink and orange quilted fabrics, juxtaposing the classical paintings mounted in gold gilded frames installed on a bright red wall.

“Obviously there’s a dialogue between those pieces and the sculptures. It’s really exciting to see something more experimental, something that’s really going to challenge people who are used to more conventional or conservative setup within the museum or gallery space, so it’s really exciting to see the Addison taking some chances and showing some work that’s really going to just really push people’s ideas and concepts of what art is,” said Leslie Condon, Coordinator in Museums, Educational Outreach, and Major Gifts from the Office of Academy Resources.

“The show is really not about specific objects. It is about a collection of ideas that intersect and help to frame our curatorial theme, which revolves around the concept of the theatrical. While each room is a show in and of itself, each room also has a deliberate relationship to the content of the other rooms around it,” said Nesbett. 

The second room reveals the mis-representation of artist Jacob Lawrence’s series, “The Migration of the Negro.” According to the Addison, Lawrence considers all sixty panels in the series to be a single artwork, portraying the journey of African Americans after the abolition of slavery as they moved out of the South to the North. However, in 2007, Whitney Museum of American Art showcased an exhibition of seventeen of the sixty panels. Triple Candie exhibits the artwork the way Lawrence first installed it in November 1941 with reproductions of all sixty panels.

“I just found a lot of angst [in the Jacob Lawrence paintings] actually… It’s very lonely. It’s so grim and so solemn… I really love it when art can make you feel something, some kind of deep emotion, and when art can kind of call to mind things that you don’t necessarily often think about everyday but are important things to remember, so I think that painting is sort of a call to action,” said Gracie Limoncelli ’18.

“Throwing Up Bunnies” addresses provocative notions about art and the nature of artistic experiences, and while it was met with fascination and a feeling of liberation to some, it caused great uncertainty to others, according to Kemmerer.

“I don’t really understand what is linking all the pieces together… it was a little confusing because they made it seem like they weren’t giving a lot of credit to who the artists were and what they created, so I don’t really understand the purpose of doing that,” said Bobby Ranalli ’18.

“Throwing Up Bunnies” will be open in the Addison until April 2, 2017.