Thomas Huston is a 2013/2014 ¬†curatorial intern at ¬†MASS MoCA.
Izhar Patkin:The Wandering Veil¬†has been two years in the making. My part in the process, however, has been much briefer.
I joined the MASS MoCA¬†curatorial department ¬†last summer¬†as an intern, and was first introduced to the The Wandering Veil¬†via floor plans, lists of works, and the catalogue. I was confident that through these materials I had a decent grasp of what the end result would be.
With this confident conception of The Wandering Veil,¬†I traveled with MASS MoCA Director of Exhibition Planning, Dante Birch, and my fellow Visual Arts intern, Josh Gutierrez, to¬†Izhar‚Äôs East Village home to pack and load works for transport back to the museum.
As we ¬†carefully de-installed and packed the works, I slowly realized that whatever ideas I had had about the final expression of the exhibition would be were, in fact, wrong.
The full breadth and depth of Izhar’s 30-year career ¬†began to sink in as we packed works such as ¬†Ghost Money,¬†a¬†mirrored Plexiglas vitrine¬†he produced with the Korean American artist, Nam June Paik (which can be seen in the first grouping of works in Building 5);¬†Before the Law Stands a Doorkeeper, a large recreation of a barn door with paintings incorporated into it (which we had to dismantle in New York only to reconstruct it back at MASS MoCA; see above); Palagonia¬†(which can be found on the mezzanine in Building 5); and his ethereal ‘Veils’ and landmark paintings on pleated neoprene. Each of the works was different, but each compelling and complex.
Before we had left for the city, I helped lay out the chalk lines, precisely marking where the ‚Äėrooms‚Äô were to be installed.
When we returned to MASS MoCA, the vast, open expanse that had been Building 5 just a few days earlier had become instead a small city, a labyrinth of rooms and hallways ripe for exploration.
With fabrication complete, installation quickly began, and I was lucky enough to be involved with multiple facets of it –from¬†preparing veils, to assisting with the installation of ¬†Judenporcelain¬†and¬†Palagonia, and even lighting a few works on my own.
Through these tasks I was able to work directly with Izhar, which was an incredible learning experience in its own right.
I also learned how to operate a scissor lift, something which will no doubt come in handy in the future.
All things considered, the installation of¬†The Wandering Veil¬†was a formative learning experience for me. ¬†Not only did I pick up some incredibly useful skills, but I was able to watch an exhibition go from simple plans on pieces of paper to an incredible transformation of a space in ways that I could never have imagined.
I was able to work directly with an artist whose work I have come to greatly admire, and build a working relationship with him that will continue to be important to me in the future.
Interested in getting more of the story from behind the ‘Veils’? Catch Izhar in conversation with curator and writer David Ross¬†at MASS MoCA on Saturday, January 18 at 2pm. After the talk, join the artist and other guests for¬†a reception¬†in honor of The Wandering Veil¬†at¬†3pm.
Izhar Patkin:The Wandering Veil¬†is¬†on view ¬†through September 1, 2014.
Posted January 13, 2014 by MASS MoCA
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