Any exhibition that “…aims to demonstrate the centrality of animation to contemporary global culture…” is worth our attention, and the UK’s Barbican Centre-produced “Watch Me Move: The Animation Show” has been doing that at museum venues since 2011. This June, it comes to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville.
“While we often think of animation as an art form for children, this exhibition acknowledges its appeal to all generations and cultures from the United States and Europe to Japan and China,” said Frist Center chief curator Mark Scala. “Most of the works comprise family entertainment, which is often hilarious and ingenious. Even films with purely aesthetic aims, or with mature and socially critical content, will change the way people appreciate many of the most creative, yet often unheralded, masters of the medium.”
The exhibition includes 85 works, from clips to complete films, arranged in six thematic sections: Apparitions, Fables and Fragments, Structures, Characters, Superhumans and Modern Visions. The obvious choices, such as Walt Disney, the Fleischers, Studio Ghibli, and Ray Harryhausen are represented, alongside lesser known figures including Wan Gu Chan and Wan Lai Ming, Jan Svankmajer, and Harry Smith, among others. “Watch Me Move” covers the earliest days of animated film to CG animation, from the abstract to the hyper-real. On June 13, Elliot Wilhelm, curator of film at the Detroit Institute of Arts (the previous venue for this show) will lecture on the films contained in the exhibition.