Immersive film exhibition on Bechtler in Charlotte, NC


After October 30th, enter the gallery on the fourth floor of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and experience a comprehensive, multi-layered film exhibition about the Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi.

In “Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi – A Wonderful Entanglement” nine screens – each with different art forms and an interplay with time and space – show pieces from the life and work of the famous architect and designer in the midst of her modernist buildings.

British Artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien premiered the work in Rome, although the Charlotte installation will mark its premiere in US museums.

Bo Bardi was a key figure in modernist architecture and culture, said Todd Smith, CEO of Becthler. “She was very influential with her design work, with her fonts, also with her work as a curator and with her time in Italy, in Brazil,” he said. “It has come back on the radar of architectural historians in recent years.”

Similarly, Julien has long been on Smith’s radar, he said, “with historical figures and an attempt to bring them back into the public eye.”

Julien has introduced and further developed canvas installations in contemporary art for around 25 years. His 1989 documentary-drama “In Search of Langston” was a cinematic exploration of black gay desire and the Harlem renaissance.

A reflection on Bo Bardi

The Bechtler installation reflects Bo Bardi’s Brazilian projects from the 1960s to the 1980s. Her life story will be interpreted by the Brazilian mother-daughter actresses Fernanda Montenegro and Fernanda Torres. It was filmed in several locations in Brazil, including the São Paulo Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in Bahia, and the Teatro Gregório de Matos in Salvador.

The film plays with our perception of time, inspired by Bo Bardi’s thoughts: “Linear time is a western invention; Time is not linear, it is a wonderful entanglement in which points can be chosen and solutions invented at any time, without a beginning or an end. “

Isaac Julien’s “Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvelous Entanglement” is a nine-screen installation that opens on October 30 at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy Isaac Julien and Victoria Miro

Smith said the work challenges the traditional way that most visitors go to an art museum, scan the room, look at one work of art, and then move on to the next.

“This work really requires you to be part of the experience. The show highlights the importance of movement and space. It’s a very different way of talking about the show – the physical experience between these nine screens with the sound and the people moving around the room as they watch and listen and are part of the installation. “

Julien started Bo Bardi’s work a few years ago and graduated in 2019 as a sensual experience.

“It’s not meant to be a documentation of their life or a documentation of their architecture,” said Smith. “Rather a really beautiful and poetic representation of who she was as an individual and how she contributed to a cultural conversation in Italy and especially in Brazil.”

“Legacy of Modernity”

Much of Julien’s work has focused on breaking down barriers between artistic disciplines and exploring topics such as race, history and migration through installations and films. That’s a big reason Julien’s work now goes well with the cups, Smith said.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with new exhibitions is not just looking at some of the key ideas in modern art, but what are some of the legacies of modernity that artists are still grappling with today,” he said. “When we talked internally about how we wanted to get out of the pandemic and showcase the museum for its next chapter, it became clear that Julien’s work fitted where we wanted to be at that moment.”

“Beautiful Souls, Less Beautiful Souls” is one of the works of “Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvelous Enanglement”. Courtesy Isaac Julien and Jessica Silverman

The Julien exhibition replaces “Twentieth Century Women”, an exhibition with over 100 works by 22 artists that focuses on the artistic achievements of women in the Bechtler collections.

Other highlights announced for the coming season include “Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure without a goal”, a large retrospective dedicated to the photography of the Swiss writer, photographer and journalist, and a celebration of the works of one of the founders of minimalism and conceptual art, by the American artist Sol LeWitt.

“Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi – A Wonderful Entanglement”

Where: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, 420 S. Tryon St.

When: Issued from October 30, 2021 to February 27, 2022.


This story is part of an Observer underwriting project with the Thrive Campaign for the Arts, which supports art journalism in Charlotte.

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