Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nick Cave's "Until", and more at Mass MoCA

My husband and I visited Mass MoCA yesterday (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, for those of you unfamiliar with the name).  A trip to Mass MoCA is always guaranteed to mystify, to wow, to confuse, to befuddle, to excite, and more.  On my last trip to Mass MoCA, I was especially smitten with two long-term exhibitions: wall paintings by Sol Lewitt, and my personal favorite, the installation All Utopias Fall by Michael Oatman.  They are both still there, but the Oatman installation is only open seasonally (it's basically in an Airstream suspended precariously and accessed by climbing stairways through a creepy boiler room out onto a catwalk). 
This trip there were several exhibits that intrigued me, most particularly a major installation by Nick Cave, in the photos posted above and below.
I took a ridiculous amount of photos of this and other exhibits, before, when removing my sweet point-and-shoot little camera from my arm to put it in its case, it slipped out of my grip and spun madly through the air landing on the hard wooden floor with a crash. I think it left a dent in the floor, and the camera appears to be irreparably damaged.  There was a blizzard today, so I couldn't get to the photo store (it was probably closed anyhow) to see if there's any hope to save it.  This trusty lightweight but versatile camera has been everywhere with me for a few years, especially traveling with me in my kayak on numerous occasions as I've stalked loons, eagles, herons, and turtles, and I am sad to think its journey with me has ended.
Speaking of the blizzard, we were actually planning to stay overnight near the museum, and go to a completely different museum today (with more of a focus on impressionism and other traditional works of art) but we hotfooted it home last evening to beat the storm.  Good thing we did!  We've probably got a foot and a half of fresh snow, and it was quite a doozy of a storm with high winds and total whiteout.
But back to the museum!  These draped caves were NOT made from colorful rope and fishing net, as they might look on first glance. 
Look carefully.  They are made entirely out of strands of beads, beaded into layers and layers of netting.  Colorful and beautiful!  And with images of rainbows, peace signs, a happy face, and more, all in the beading! 
 I was asking a guard a lot of questions, specifically about the installation of the installation.  (Does that make sense?) A lot she couldn't answer.  How many people hung all the spinny things?  Who decided which ones go where?  And who assembled the chandelier and all the "stuff" on top of it?  (She told me the chandelier arrived in boxes and boxes of crystals...).  And how about the beading?  Who actually did the physical work of stringing all the beads according to what pattern?  What part of all of this is actually done by the artist, and what part is done by technicians or what?  Who hunted yard sales and junk shops to find all the intriguing found objects incorporated in the chandelier?  I'm pretty blown away/befuddled by the scope of it all and the "who does what" and what role the artist has in the actual creation of the work of art.  I'd love your insight, readers!!
In the midst of all the dangly spinning things shown at the top of the post, there was a giant crystal chandelier (as you've seen in one of the pics above, plus below) with ladders to the top, where there was a huge collection of.... stuff.  Hard to describe.  All sorts of interesting found objects.
 Me in my happy place.

It all felt so joyous to me, so it was really intriguing, afterward, to read the literature about the installation, called "Until".  It's really a statement about confronting racism and violence head-on.  The exhibit included a room with an immersive video (below; it felt like the floors and walls were moving), that was very agitating, and the literature says the show ended with a "metaphoric cleansing amidst a Mylar waterfall".  I don't know how, but evidently we totally missed that final Mylar waterfall!

In a separate post, probably tomorrow, I'll share some of other intriguing artwork on exhibit at the museum.  Too much to put all in one post!!  Stay tuned, because it's awesome stuff!! 

1 comment:

  1. Amazing -- like some kind of whirling "fairy land". Like you, I am always fascinated and curious about how installations like this are put together! Glad you got in out of the snow - we saw pix of it on the news last night.