Ritchie's sprawling vision of the universe is laid out for MASS MoCA visitors in his major exhibition Proposition Player which features paintings, more than 250' of wall drawings, a massive aluminum sculpture, light boxes, and a digital craps table.
Picturing the Cosmos Explores Sources of Matthew Ritchieâ€™s Inspiration
Companion exhibition to Ritchieâ€™s Proposition Player will open June 19 at MASS MoCA
(North Adams, Massachusetts) â€“ Matthew Ritchieâ€™s sprawling vision of the universe is laid out for MASS MoCA visitors in his major exhibition Proposition Player which features paintings, more than 250â€™ of wall drawings, a massive aluminum sculpture, light boxes, and a digital craps table. Visitors this summer and fall will find additional material to help them understand and appreciate the complex, layered language Ritchie has developed to consider the big question â€“ â€œif there is an order to the universe, what does it look like?â€ Picturing the Cosmos: Images from Genesis to String Theory will feature mythological and scientific books and ephemera directly related to Ritchieâ€™s iconography. Kepler, the archangels, particle physics, voodoo vÃ©vÃ©s and more will be part of the exhibition in MASS MoCAâ€™s Michael & Agnese Meehan and Prints and Drawings Gallery through December 2004
In his work Ritchie draws upon the visual offerings of a wide array of disciplines and traditions -- scientific modeling, religious symbolism, and mystic iconography among others. In creating his paintings, drawings, light boxes and more these visual expressions of cosmological order intersect, bleeding into one another. Picturing the Cosmos untangles this web of data by presenting individual examples of the graphic material that fuels Ritchieâ€™s work.
The exhibition includes scientific and religious/mystical images which are found in equal parts in Ritchieâ€™s work. Though frequently seen as being diametrically opposed to one another, science and religion peacefully co-exist in the Nuremberg Chronicles â€“ a seminal Northern Renaissance which fused the Bibleâ€™s creation story with astronomical theories of the time to create the history of a God-created, earth-centered cosmos. In modern times science continues to produce visual representations of cosmological order. Most recently string theory, a branch of physics that comes out of quantum theory, represents scienceâ€™s latest attempt at providing a â€œtheory of everythingâ€ â€“ one that can explain everything from the Big Bang (a favorite topic of Ritchieâ€™s) to the basic behavior of particles.
The exhibition and Ritchieâ€™s work draw on theories and traditions well beyond the conventional offerings of Western science and religion, using Tarot and Voodoo symbols for example. In Tarot the practitioner entrusts him/herself to the chance unfolding of the cardsâ€™ prescribed iconographic system. The interplay of imagery and fate produces a narrative that imposes order on the practitionerâ€™s life. In the Voodoo religion, one also finds graphic material functioning in an ordering capacity.
As disparate and arbitrary as these objects might appear, all of the materials in Picturing the Cosmos share their dependence on graphic material as a means of conveying information about the world/universeâ€™s order. The diversity in their form and content testifies to the rich complexity of strategies that people have devised to structure their existence and it is this very diversity that finds expression in the work of Matthew Ritchie.
Organized by Matthew Levy, an intern from the Williams College-Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in the History of Art, the exhibition is part of the continuing series of MASS MoCA exhibitions presented in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute in support of MASS MoCA and the Williams/Clark Graduate program in the History of Art. The Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute has been placing interns from its graduate art program in the curatorial department at MASS MoCA since well before MASS MoCA opened. â€œClark graduate students have curated some of our most interesting and thoughtful shows so Mattâ€™s exhibition joins a long and distinguished list. Our first exhibition in 1996 David Byrneâ€™s Desire was curated by Clark interns and more graduate students have organized exhibitions here every year since our opening in 1999,â€ said Joseph Thompson, director of MASS MoCA.
87 Marshall Street, North Adams