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Plans for NAMA!

Bureau for Open Culture is an institution on-the-go that initiates the overlap of art, science, ecology, and design. In a variety of locations, BOC helps foster collaborations that explore cultural, social, economic and political conditions.

We are so happy that BOC has landed here in North Adams for the summer and fall as part of our upcoming show The Workers. BOC’s series titled, I Am Searching for Field Character (after a Joseph Beuys essay), invites artists and thinkers to explore North Adams’ historical roots and current relationship with MASS MoCA.

James Voorhies, Director and Chief Curator of Bureau for Open Culture, met with us on Sunday to discuss the ideas for North Adams...You know, because we really like ideas here at MASS MoCA. Get it? The project is an exploration of a community that evolved from an industrial society into a cultural getaway.

When we met with James, he told us about three projects that will take place this summer from May 26 – September 30. First, there’s Beer Garden, a center for conversation AND beer nestled alongside the Hoosic River. Starting on May 26 (let’s hope the snow is gone by then!!), Beer Garden will open for intellectual conversations about community and cultural work over locally brewed beverages every Thursday and Friday night from 5pm-10pm!

Another project is Work Site, a lovely office space in the formerly un-renovated Building 8 at MASS MoCA which will be open to freelancers who would like to bring their laptop to a new workspace and meet some new colleagues! (Think of a coffee shop without the coffee).

James also introduced me to one of the artists, Sarah Cowles, professor of landscape at Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University and mastermind behind Elegantly Wasted: a Fashion-Forward Ecosystem for the Hoosic River. Sarah was joined by some of her brightest architect and landscape students from OSU. The group spent the weekend in the Berkshires becoming familiar with the area.

They visited the Natural Bridge State Park, local restaurants, the Hoosic Tunnel, and even tried their luck with Trivia Night at the PNA in Adams!

Made into a concrete channel in the 1950s, the Hoosic River has not always been a “dead-zone”. The 66-mile long river once provided ecological strength to the Berkshires and industrial power from the 1700’s to the 1900’s. Today there is a disconnect between the community and the river. Sarah and Bureau for Open Culture are here to change that.

The students split into three groups and surveyed the four-mile channelized section of the Hoosic River that runs through NAMA; sketching and observing the area. Their goal was to contemplate and discover a possible relationship between the North Adams community and the Hoosic River.

Two suggestions were thoroughly discussed: One was creating a sound-piece that would be affected by the changing water levels in the River; another was creating smaller ecosystems off of the channelized river to support wildlife.

Bureau for Open Culture is looking forward to connecting with the North Adams community through natural, scientific, and cultural development. Keep reading to see what they come up with!..or visit Bureau for Open Culture’s website!

(Look how happy they are to be in NAMA…)

Posted April 13, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Bureau for Open Culture: I Am Searching for Field Character
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