If youâ€™ve read the previous two blog entries regarding Jane Philbrickâ€™s large-scale landscape project, youâ€™re probably fairly well versed in the concept and process of transforming the 1.5 acre outdoor space on MASS MoCAâ€™s campus into an industrial garden. The third and final blog installation reveals how The Expanded Field will welcome museum-goers and North Adams community when it opens next fall. Hereâ€™s a glimpse of the artistâ€™s vision for the publicâ€™s use of this â€śindustrial gardenâ€ť. To answer our question of how this space will be used, Jane explained that, for her, a visit to a museum â€śsucceedsâ€ť when the encounter with an artwork becomes a portal to possibility rather than an artifact for information. As a cultural â€ścompression zone,â€ť a museum should be a venue for inviting dialogue that canâ€™t be or isnâ€™t happening otherwise. Jane sees MASS MoCA as a place of pilgrimage, a dynamic oasis from the grazing and herding behavior of global tourism. She cites the examples of architects Luis BarragĂˇn (Mexico) and Charles Correa (India), who believed garden spaces were essential to the museum experience, serving as both a preparatory place for thought and a sanctuary for reflection and contemplation.
When asked whether visitors would be encouraged to move in certain ways through the architectural, spatial, and temporal choices of the site, Jane offered her vision of the space as a performance of possibilities. The Expanded Field becomes a venue for social gathering while still allowing the opportunity to be on oneâ€™s own, the solitary company of one among many. The option of different pathways provides focused engagement and freedom to the viewer, offering a journey-like experience, whose final destination is discovery.
Visitors to The Expanded Field will sit among The Rounds, made of dry stack wall and rammed earth, and wander the Asphalt Meadow, planted with native grasses and wildflowers. They can follow the fragmentary path of the AllĂ©e under the shade of river birches bordering the Hoosic. The viewer can swing on the â€śSing Setâ€ť (a swing set that sings the harmonic scale), while viewing the optical illusion mural based on the Lorentz Transformation (which states that space and time are not absolute, but depend upon the observerâ€™s relative motion). They can gather in the Body Pockets, seating carved into the sloping wall of the foundation ruin that are metaphoric of musical notes on sheet music, while sampling the â€śaudio mobileâ€ť of the Sound Wall, featuring Janeâ€™s original spoken text compositions in collaboration with Brad Wells and the Williams College vocal group Roomful of Teeth, mingling with the â€śfound soundâ€ť of the site.
Jane Philbrickâ€™s Expanded Field marks a convergence of the performing, visual, and media arts that makes the MASS MoCA experience one that is so fearlessly unconventional and steeped in possibility. With the weather turning, and the planting season coming to an end, stay tuned as Phase I draws to close and Phase II picks up speed.
BIO: Jane Philbrick is an artist and educator. Recent exhibitions include â€śEverything Tremblesâ€ť (Skissernas Museum, Archives of Public Art, Lund University), â€śThe Endâ€ť (The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh), â€śPullâ€ť (Location One, New York), â€śInsight Outâ€ť (WanĂĄs Foundation, Sweden). 2007-10, Jane was an artist Fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. 2008-09, she was the inaugural International Fellow at Location One. Jane is currently an artist research affiliate with the Singapore-MIT International Design Center and Visiting Professor and Director of Programme, C : Art, an MFA program at Valand School of Fine Arts, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.