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July 26, 2017
The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian Art in Washington, will be transformed into a spectacular public artwork by the Tony Award-winning artists, 59 Productions, to celebrate the renovation and reopening of the two museums in October.
As the specially commissioned centrepiece of the weekend-long celebration Oct. 14–15, “A Perfect Harmony” will see the facade of the Freer become a vast canvas for a projection-mapping event for thousands of spectators, free of charge, with five performances Saturday evening, Oct. 14.
Using the latest technology, the 12-minute animated artwork is set to a specially curated soundtrack and will trace the history of the Freer|Sackler from Charles Lang Freer, who donated his collection of Asian and American art to the nation in 1906, to Arthur M. Sackler who established a sister museum of Asian art in the 1980s, to their international reach in the 21st century. Inspired by Freer’s unshakeable belief that art could deepen understanding and appreciation of world cultures, the museums find connections across time and space. “A Perfect Harmony” will light up the Washington night in an empowering and not-to-be-missed celebration of art and ideas.
“A Perfect Harmony” is the latest work from 59 Productions, the team behind the video design of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Building on a decade of experience making theatrical work for some of the world’s greatest venues—including the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, The Metropolitan Opera and Salzburg Festival—the company has more recently created spectacular public artworks and projection-mapping for some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the Sydney Opera House, Edinburgh Castle, Hampton Court Palace and the United Nations headquarters in New York.
“I am absolutely delighted that 59 Productions has agreed to create a special public artwork to celebrate the reopening of the Freer|Sackler,” said Julian Raby, The Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art. “The company’s ability to weave together art and technology to tell powerful human stories perfectly fits with the mission and method of the new Freer|Sackler.”
“We are thrilled to be working with the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries,” said Richard Slaney, 59 Productions project director. “We hope to show the museums in a spectacular new light and to demonstrate how Charles Lang Freer’s belief in the power of cross-cultural exchange is more important now than ever.”
“IlluminAsia: A Festival of Asian Art, Food and Cultures” is a weekend-long celebration of the reopening of the Freer|Sackler on the National Mall. The grounds of the museums will be transformed into a vibrant street fair, complete with food stalls, artist demonstrations, live music and performances open from 5 p.m. to midnight Oct. 14 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 15. Inside the museums, visitors will experience the newly reimagined galleries, a series of new temporary exhibitions and participate in specially programmed experiences in the galleries. The event is free and open to the public and co-presented with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
The Saturday evening program, in addition to the street fair, will “Light Up the Night” with a sea of lanterns, light displays and video art projected onto the Freer Gallery. On Sunday, the festival continues with activities for all ages throughout the museums, including hands-on art making, storytelling, food demonstrations and performances.
“A Perfect Harmony” Credits: Project Director: Richard Slaney, Writer: Mark Grimmer, Producer: Tommy Lexen, Senior Video Designer: Nick Corrigan, Pre-visualisation: Gareth Damian Martin and Akhila Krishnan, Design Assistant: Hannah Fasching, Animators: Aaron Brady, Emily Howells, Sean Kothe, Joseph Pierce and Edd Stockton, Sound Design: Tom Hackley, Lighting Design: Anthony Pearson, Technical Design and Delivery: DWP Live, Technical Associate: Maximilien Spielbichler, Technical Assistant: Iain Syme.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
Commission Title: “A Perfect Harmony”
Commission Hashtag: #APerfectHarmony
Commissioned by: @freersackler
Designed By: @59productions
Show Date: Saturday, Oct. 14
Show Times: 7:45 p.m., 8:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m., 10:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.
Show Duration: 12 min. (approximately)
Event Title: “IlluminAsia: A Festival of Asian Art, Food and Cultures”
Event Hashtag: #IlluminAsiaFS
Event Venue: @freersackler
Event Dates: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14–15
Event Website: http://www.asia.si.edu/reopening/
ABOUT THE FREER AND SACKLER GALLERIES
Founded in 1923, the Freer Gallery of Art was the Smithsonian’s first art museum, and it was joined by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1987. Together they have long been known for preserving and sharing the treasures of Asia, making inspiring connections between Asia, America and the world. Today, the museum offers exhibitions that highlight the compelling beauty of ancient worlds as well as the vitality of contemporary Asian artists. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the wonders of Asian art in the Freer|Sackler galleries and online.
The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., together comprise the nation’s museums of Asian art. It contains one of the most important collections of Asian art in the world, featuring more than 40,000 objects ranging in time from the Neolithic to the present day, with especially fine groupings of Islamic art, Chinese jades, bronzes and paintings and the art of the ancient Near East. The galleries also contain important masterworks from Japan, ancient Egypt, South and Southeast Asia and Korea, as well as the Freer’s noted collection of works by American artist James McNeill Whistler.
The Freer|Sackler is a part of the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, which is dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge.
Website: freersackler.si.edu; Twitter: @FreerSackler
ABOUT 59 PRODUCTIONS
59 Productions is the multiaward-winning company of artists behind the video design of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the globe-trotting smash hit, “War Horse,” the design and creative direction of the record-breaking “David Bowie is” exhibition, and video design of Christopher Wheeldon’s celebrated stage adaptation of An American in Paris, for which they received a Tony Award in 2015.
Led by directors Leo Warner, Mark Grimmer, Lysander Ashton and Richard Slaney, 59 Productions are world-leading specialists in design for stage and live events. They are the go-to team for generating creative and technical ideas to realise ambitious artistic projects across a range of disciplines: from architectural projection mapping to exhibition design, VR experiences to events, theatrical design to technical consultancy.
In 2017, 59 Productions began producing its own theatrical work, opening its first full-scale production, Paul Auster’s City of Glass described as a “must-see show” (Daily Telegraph) with “extraordinary video designs” (The Independent) at HOME, Manchester and the Lyric, Hammersmith.
As Associate Artists to the Edinburgh International Festival until 2018, 59 Productions return in summer 2017 with “Bloom,” a 70th-anniversary celebration event, following on from the spectacular success of “The Harmonium Project” and “Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time.”
Current and upcoming projects also include “Oslo” (Lincoln Center & National Theatre), “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” (Santa Fe Opera), “Reflections” (a four-day projection-mapping event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao) and Marnie (the World Premiere of the new opera by American composer Nico Muhly for The Metropolitan Opera & English National Opera).
Website: 59productions.co.uk; Twitter: @59productions; Instagram: @59_productions