salem-massachusetts

Nick Cave, Bunny Boy,
2012
, HD video, color,
sound, 14 minutes.
From “PlayTime.”

“PlayTime”

Peabody Essex Museum

Nick Cave, Bunny Boy,
2012
, HD video, color,
sound, 14 minutes.
From “PlayTime.”

On paper, the Peabody Essex Museum’s “PlayTime” looks like an innocent exhibition of fun contemporary art for the whole family to enjoy—ideal for this Salem, Massachusetts, institution known for its allergy to pretention and its enthusiastic outreach to as wide a community as possible. And curator Trevor Smith’s dramatic opening gesture seemed to fulfill that promise: The museum’s oldest, grandest gallery is occupied entirely by Lara Favaretto’s Instagram-ready Coppie Semplici, 2009, an installation of colorful car-wash brushes spinning in pairs. It seems to be a cheerful photo op until you notice that these brushes, without a car to wash between them, are in fact slowly grinding one another into heaps of dust left carefully undisturbed at their bases. And that each pair is named for a human couple known personally by the artist.

Mom and Dad out of the way, the show proceeds

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