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Landscape Installation in the Works: Part III

If you’ve read the previous two blog entries regarding Jane Philbrick’s large-scale landscape project, you’re probably fairly well versed in the concept and process of transforming the 1.5 acre outdoor space on MASS MoCA’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. Here’s a glimpse of the artist’s vision for the public’s use of this “industrial garden”. To answer our question of how this space will be used, Jane explained that, for her, a visit to a museum “succeeds” when the encounter with an artwork becomes a portal to possibility rather than an artifact for information. As a cultural “compression zone,” a museum should be a venue for inviting dialogue that can’t be or isn’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 Barragán (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 one’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 Allée under the shade of river birches bordering the Hoosic. The viewer can swing on the “Sing Set” (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 observer’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 “audio mobile” of the Sound Wall, featuring Jane’s original spoken text compositions in collaboration with Brad Wells and the Williams College vocal group Roomful of Teeth, mingling with the “found sound” of the site.

Jane Philbrick’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 “Everything Trembles” (Skissernas Museum, Archives of Public Art, Lund University), “The End” (The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh), “Pull” (Location One, New York), “Insight Out” (Wanås 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.

Posted November 9, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions
1 Comment »

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One Comment on “Landscape Installation in the Works: Part III”

  1. Phil and Justine Leger Says:

    Wow – great to see what you’re up to. I will come see it when you are done. Hope to see you in NY some day…

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