Now Open – Antoine Catala: Distant Feel

New exhibition addresses images and expressions of empathy, in virtual spaces

Antoine Catala: Distant Feel
Exhibition in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum Gallery
February 14–May 18, 2015
Includes works co-commissioned with the New Museum of Contemporary Art

Antoine Catala: Distant Feel presents a new body of work in sculpture, photography, and video that addresses the way that images provoke emotion, especially as they travel virtual and physical distances via the internet. The first solo museum show for the New York-based French artist, Catala also addresses the myriad ways we express feelings, through the very technology that increasingly mediates our daily lives.

The artist is developing what he calls “a rebrand” for the sentiment of empathy, conceived in collaboration with New York advertising agency Droga5. This new form of empathy is embodied in both a symbol (E3), and the catchphrase “distant feel,” both of which will be employed in the exhibition and online. According to Catala, “Wars are waged, inequalities increase, the planet is being ravaged; all the while the ecosystem of screens through which we learn of them expands around us. Empathy that is too intense or too raw can become a hindrance rather than a help. Distant Feel is a cool, detached, focused form of empathy.”

Antoine Catala; Distant Feel, 2014

Antoine Catala; Distant Feel, 2014

For the exhibition, he created new sculpture in a living medium, tank-grown coral, in the form of this new symbol for empathy. Catala shares the symbol, with more information, at “It acknowledges that it’s paradoxically OK to be distant and encourages us to express our empathy in an effective way,” he says. “This project is about encouraging people to affirm their bond and to express­ it via all means of communication.”

The sculpture and branding campaign in Antoine Catala: Distant Feel are co-commissions with the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and will also be presented on the occasion of their 2015 Triennial (February 25–May 24, 2015). The CMOA presentation is a project of the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Orphaned Images, which also includes a new publication, Auto Body Collision by Shannon Ebner. It is organized by Tina Kukielski, curator of the Hillman Photography Initiative, and Alex Klein, the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Program Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

The related, museum-led Gulf Tower Project illuminated the tower’s 6-storey weather beacon with sentiment readings from Pittsburgh-area Instagram comments from February 11-13. Some results include:

Saddest Post:
Happiest Post:

Almost 3 times as many more positive than negative comments, out of 16,589  total. Instagram in Pittsburgh is a happy place!

The Hillman Photography Initiative at Carnegie Museum of Art is an incubator for innovative thinking on the photographic image. The Initiative’s inaugural cycle of projects investigates the lifecycle of images: their creation, transmission, consumption, storage, potential loss, and reemergence. Technology accelerates the pace of this cycle, and often alters or redirects the trajectory of an image in unexpected, powerful ways.

Other recent projects of the Initiative include The Invisible Photograph, This Picture, The Sandbox: At Play with the Photobook, and A People’s History of Pittsburgh.

Symbol for Empathy is co-commissioned by the Hillman Photography Initiative, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.

Support for the Hillman Photography Initiative is provided by the William T. Hillman Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. Major support provided by Lisa Schiff.

Production support provided by Droga5.

General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Carnegie Museum of Art
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 19th century to the present. Founded in 1896, the Carnegie International is one of the oldest surveys of contemporary art worldwide. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understand of the built environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. The Hillman Photography Initiative serves as an incubator for innovative thinking about the photographic image. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our website at

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