Invisible Cities features the work of ten artists who re-imagine urban landscapes both familiar and fantastical: Lee Bul, Carlos Garaicoa, Sopheap Pich, Diana Al Hadid, Francesco Simeti, Miha Strukelj, Kim Faler, Mary Lum. Michael Oatman features 'All Utopias Fell', a project in three interrelated parts: 'The Shining', 'The Library of the Sun' and 'Codex Solis'. Sound artist Stephen Vitiello created 'All Those Vanished Engines', a relic from the industrial past of the site used to heat the factory buildings that now make up the museum.
Apr 14, 2012–Mar 1, 2013
Titled after Italo Calvino's beloved book - which imagines Marco Polo's vivid descriptions of numerous cities of a fading empire to Kublai Khan - the exhibition features the work of ten diverse artists who re-imagine urban landscapes both familiar and fantastical. Like Marco Polo's poetic imagery, which leaves the reader wondering if the cities he describes are real or perhaps all different versions of his own Venetian home, the works in the show explore how our perceptions of place are shaped by personal influences as diverse as memory, desire, and loss, as well as by cultural forces such as history and the media.
The featured works range from the representational to the abstract, reminding us that any city is as much an idea or psychological and emotional experience as an assemblage of asphalt, brick, steel, and glass. The artists translate various cities - or the impressions that they conjure -- in charcoal, paint, wallpaper, plaster, soap, and even light and sound, reminding us of the role all the senses play in knowing or remembering place.
The architect Aldo Rossi wrote, "In order to be significant, architecture must be forgotten, or must present only an image for reverence which subsequently becomes confounded with memories." If the city keeps our collective memory, as Rossi wrote, it is subject to the same deviations and mutations of time and, in fact, becomes a fragmented web of reflections of the original and perhaps, ultimately, something more. Invisible Cities presents a selection of artists' interpretations of the built environment and its reflection in our emotional, psychological, and intellectual lives while musing on the city's extended life in the imagination and in our dreams, conjuring up new images of both our past and future.
Invisible Cities includes work by Lee Bul, Carlos Garaicoa, and Sopheap Pich, as well as major new commissions by Diana Al Hadid, Francesco Simeti, Miha Strukelj, and local artists Kim Faler and Mary Lum.
This project has been supported by a grant from the Artists' Resource Trust and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and in part by, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
All Utopias Fell
Open April 14 - November 4, 2012
All Utopias Fell is a project in three interrelated parts: The Shining and The Library of the Sun and Codex Solis The project is a long-term installation that is open seasonally.
The Shining is a 1970s-era ‘satellite’ that has crash-landed at MASS MoCA. This beautifully reflective, repurposed Airstream trailer – with large parachutes and active solar panels – is inspired by an earlier era of pulp aeronauts like Buck Rogers, Tom Swift and Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, as well as the works of Giotto, Jules Verne, NASA, and Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée. Visitors can climb a staircase in the Boiler Plant and enter into the craft where they will encounter The Library of the Sun. Hybridizing a domestic space, a laboratory and a library, it has the feel of a hermitage, where the occupant will ‘be right back’, only it is 30 years later. Videos relating to the sun and its mythology flicker to life on the cockpit’s instrumentation panels. In addition to these elements, visitors will be stunned by a stained glass window in what was once the windshield of the vehicle. Once inside the craft, visitors will also be able to view Codex Solis, a massive field of photovoltaic (PVs) or solar panels. At 50kw, the field will generate 7% of the power consumed by MASS MoCA. In addition to this 230-foot long grid, mirrors are interspersed in the middle of the field, and suggest an absent text. The arrangement of mirrors and solar panels is based on a specific quote by an unnamed author, and will not be revealed by the artist; instead the public will be encouraged to spend time with the piece, watch the reflected sky, and solve the riddle as birds and planes, inverted, fly by.
This exhibition is made possible by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
All Those Vanished Engines
Open April 14 - November 4, 2012
An installation by Stephen Vitiello
Lighting Design: Jeremy Choate
Text: Paul Park
Sound Engineer: Bob Bielecki
Sound artist Stephen Vitiello created All Those Vanished Engines especially for the MASS MoCA boiler house. This building is a relic from the industrial past of the site and was once used to heat the factory buildings that now make up the museum. Starting with the inherent resonance of the pipes and metal drums in the space, Vitiello built a layered sound installation that can be explored throughout the first two floors of the building.
The narrative (and title) for All Those Vanished Engines comes from a commissioned text by novelist Paul Park. (Read it here.) The story serves as the thematic structure and blueprint for Vitiello’s installation. The text and concepts consider a possible reading of the building as a façade for a secret, experimental project to explore the industrial production of sound. Told by two narrators visiting a fictional worker of boiler house, Park’s story recalls the history of the building as both a producer of sounds as well as a structure haunted by its production. Park writes: “After all, sound was what had animated the entire structure, in memory, and in the actual past, and was still animating it, for example, right now.”
Vitiello utilized Park’s text in order to bring back to life the sounds of the boiler house’s “vanished engines,” mixing ambient sound within haunting excerpts from the story. As visitors move through the space, the soundscape is ever changing, and at any given moment, sounds may move towards the listener or fade away; alternating between moments of clatter and calm. This is a space to spend time in, exploring the building’s unique character as Vitiello’s audio washes over you.
Supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency and the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund.
Image: Diana Al-Hadid Gradiva's Fourth Wall, 2011, installed at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas Steel, polymer gypsum, wood, fiberglass and paint 183 1/2 x 190 3/4 x 132 inches 466.1 x 484.5 x 335.3
Contact Katherine Myers
(413) 664-4481 x8113
Opening: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 5:30 pm
Alt Cabaret performance by Emily King: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 8:00 pm at Club B-10
87 Marshall Street - North Adams
open 11 - 5, closed Tuesdays
$5 children 6–16
Free for children 5 and under
Free to members