What’s in a name?

Our resident blogging rockstar Marketing Intern Will has a comment or two about our Sol LeWitt walls…

YAY! The Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Retrospective is ONE year old! One down, twenty four to go. Twenty four more years of visitors with an average of 100,000 visitors per year would mean 2,500,000 people could see the exhibition in its lifetime! That’s a lot of people and I think it is awesome that that many people will be able to see and experience this amazing display of Sol LeWitt’s most notable art medium.

One would think that this particular medium of art, a wall, would be very easy to maintain and conserve for many years. I mean some of the walls in our museum are over one hundred years old and the simple drywall walls in our homes are basically self-maintaining. When it comes to a wall as a work of art it would seem that it would be just as care-free, they don’t even collect dust! However, I have to remember that all works of art are not safe from one particular, almost uncontrollable conservation and preservation threat, the human finger!

Call it art and people seem magnetically attracted and subconsciously encouraged to touch it. Why do we do that? I honestly don’t have an answer for it. I think there is something about the fact that were aren’t supposed to touch that sprouts the little devil on our shoulder and makes us want to touch it.

It seems pretty silly to me especially when the art is made out of something so familiar, like concrete, cloth, stone, or even a wall. Yet the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings are not free and protected from curious fingertips. You would think that all walls are the same and if you’ve touched one you’ve touched them all! But I can see how these Wall Drawings are different. They just seem to be SCREAMING for someone to touch them and feel them as if they are different somehow. And as a consequence of this tactile characteristic I have noticed that during its inaugural year the Wall Drawing Retrospective has suffered a few smudges and marks:

Yet we all know that smudging, scratching, and smearing a Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing is not the end of the world. The physical wall and the pencil or crayon marks on a painted ground are not what really hold the value. It was Sol’s idea and/or concept behind each wall drawing that holds the importance and for that reason the physical wall can be damaged and smudged. All you have to do is paint the whole wall white again and start over.

I guess that is easier said than done. For that to happen we would have to hire a handful of artists to come to North Adams to execute the damaged wall drawings again. We would also have to hire at least one Professional Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Draftsperson to oversee all of the repairs so they are executed to Sol’s standards. While all of this would be fine and dandy, although costly, wouldn’t it be easier if we just didn’t touch the walls?

This whole situation reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, when the two love birds are cooing at each other through the balcony and Juliet famously states

“that which we call a rose

by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Just before that Juliet said, “what’s in a name?” And that is exactly what puzzles me. Why do we have a desire to touch these walls when they are named art and yet we know that they are the same as the walls we have at home?

That which we call a Wall Drawing

by any other name would feel as ordinary;

so a Wall Drawing would,were it not a Wall Drawing called.

I see two solutions to this dilemma:

1. We could utilize the six practice wall drawing walls to our advantage. Why don’t we move them into the gallery space somewhere and then visitors can touch away! Everyone can get all of their touchy curiosity out on these practice walls, that are technically not actual works of art, and then continue to enjoy the rest of the exhibition without any temptation to touch the actual works of art.

2. Maybe it is a problem with our disclaimer wall labels:

We have numerous of these wall labels littered throughout the galleries and in a plethora of different languages.

In an ideal world we would be able to read these signs and remind ourselves that we are not allowed to touch the walls. But maybe we don’t have enough languages? I am now on a mission to expand our signage to as many languages as possible. My first translation is Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs (and about one million native speakers in modern Mexcio):

Assuming not all of these smudges and fingerprints were left by Nahuatl speakers I will continue my mission, expanding our wall labels to many more often overlooked languages: Elfish, Klingon (for our Star Trek visitors), Bocce (for our Star Wars visitors), maybe Russian or Hindi, and I still can’t decide if Braile would be a good idea or not…

Anyways, this has probably gone long enough, check out our Flickr photo set for all of our multi-lingual disclaimer labels, and remember

“If you’ve touched a wall you’ve touched ’em all!

Posted December 28, 2009 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under Architecture, BLOG, Exhibitions, Interns, LeWitt
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Will Santa visit this year

The boys from Tripod, the Australian sensations who are performing their new opera, Tripod vs. the Dragon, here on January 30 offer this fun ditty to brighten your holiday season.

Santa Won’t Be Welcome Here – Tripod

Horse – Hannah | MySpace Video

Posted December 17, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Music
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Which LeWitt will Santa bring?


Late last week we launched our NEW online store.  Now you can shop for MASS MoCA gear in your pajamas at 2 AM (which is usually when the urge for a new t-shirt or catalog strikes, how else can one explain the success of QVC and Home Shopping Network?)

Please take part in our completely unscientific poll and let us know which of the beautiful LeWitt ceramics you’d like to find under the tree this year.  See the full selection here.   We’ll draw a name from everyone who responds and send you a free t-shirt. (Sorry we can’t send you the LeWitt pottery you like, we are a non-profit after all….)

Posted December 14, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Hardware, LeWitt, MASS MoCA by Design

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Zvi Gotheiner on ZviDance

With only one more day before the performance our dance company in residence ZviDance is hard at work preparing for their Work-In-Progress showing of  Zoom tomorrow at 8 PM.  Sarah LaDuke at WAMC got a chance to talk with choreographer Zvi Gotheiner for a Roundtable interview. You can listen to the full interview here! Also check out our YouTube page for three more videos of ZviDance rehearsals.

I sat in on a school time performance of Zoom the company did for local school children this morning. The students and teachers had a great time interacting with the dancers and effecting the action on the stage. Below are a few photos taken by the company and teachers in the audience.




If you don’t have your tickets for ZviDance yet you can purchase them here. If you already have your tickets don’t forget to bring your cell phone to interact with the company!

Looking for something to do before the performance? Stop by the opening of Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With in the galleries.



Posted December 11, 2009 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Work-in-progress
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Flickr Finds: Performing Arts

Christmas comes three times a year at MASS MoCA. Or, at least that’s the way it feels to me. We generally book performances in three chunks throughout the year, which means there are three days a year where, like wide eyed children, we sit around our new brochures and ohh and ahh over the upcoming events.  What can I say I, along with all of my coworkers, am a culture geek, but I’m guessing since you’re reading this blog right now that you are too.  Which is why I know you will be excited to take a look at our upcoming spring calendar, and browse through a few of my favorite performing arts images from our Flickr Group Page. Enjoy!

Please note all photos shown in Flickr Finds blogs retain the copyright of the original photographer. To learn more about the photographer and the licensing of their images, click on the photographer’s name to visit their Flickr profile or webpage.





















P.S. If you would like to see your photos featured here next month make sure you add them to our Flickr Group (2,755 photos and counting!) for consideration. I’m also looking for themes for future Flickr Finds.  If you would like to see photos based on a specific color, exhibition, idea, etc… let me know!

Posted December 10, 2009 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Flickr Finds, Music
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ZviDance in residency

Our stellar Marketing Intern Will dropped in on our in-residence dance company ZviDance to see what they have been working on. Watch two videos of the ZviDance rehearsal Will watched on our YouTube page.


This past Sunday I popped into a rehearsal of Zvi Gotheiner’s dance company, ZviDance, who are here at MASS MoCA as part of a residency to perfect their ambitious and exploratory performance, Zoom. The second I peeped my head into the rehearsal room I was struck by the humidity of the space. The windows were all fogged up and the smell of sweat and exercise brought me to the realization that some serious work was being done. I arrived just as Zvi was finishing up a routine and sending his dancers off to take a break. I sat down with Zvi to hear what he had to say about Zoom and his residency here.

Now, I am only a lowly Art History major, I don’t really know my way around the dancing world,  however my conversation with Zvi was really interesting. He told me Zoom is a collaborative project between himself and his dancers, composer Scott Killian, video designer Tal Yarden, and lighting designer Mark London, all whose main goal is to change the way people experience dance. Rather than the traditional model of Sit-Watch-and-be-Silent, they want the viewers to Sit-Watch-and -whip-out-your-cell-phones to text the company while they dance! Zvi explained that they have created a software where the viewers can send text messages and picture messages with their cell phones directly to the performers and designers and those images and messages will be displayed in real time with a series of other visual elements, with the effect that the choreography and music will be altered based on this interactive communication. OK, to a dance dunce like myself that sounds freaking sweet.

After our conversation I let Zvi get back to his dancers and I stayed to watch them rehearse a little bit. I began to really get into their rehearsal and wishing I could see it all put together with the music, lighting, and interactive video display. It became apparent to me that for the most part the performance is going to be a set piece and within which there will be cues, generated by the audience, that provoke the dancers to change and dance a different way.

It baffles me to think about the amount of hard work and mental and physical energy these dancers are going through during this residency. Zvi told me that this week is the only time he is able to get all of his dancers in one spot at one time to be able to work on the piece. Back home in New York City everyone has their own busy schedule of work, performances, etc. that it is almost impossible to get it all worked out at once. It is a true blessing for the project to have this residency so that they are able to have the time, facilities, and support that it needs to truly get all the kinks worked out, all the final decisions to be made, and then ultimately an actual performance put together to see how it all works out. I can’t wait for that moment this Saturday in the Hunter Center when I, along with the rest of the audience, will be encouraged to use my cell phone and be able to make my own fingerprint on the performance.

Posted December 9, 2009 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Interns
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