Do you ever wonder what it takes to bring MASS MoCAâ€™s intricately detailed, staggeringly larger-than-life exhibitions to life? The answer is a dedicated team of artists, curators, and fabricators, all working together to coordinate, install, and up-keep the final product on display in the galleries. Much of this behind-the-scenes work rests on the sturdy (and dare we say stylish) shoulders of our talented curatorial assistant, Matthew Lax, who graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Film and Video Art. On the final day of his year-long tenure with the curatorial department at MASS MoCA, Matthew sheds some light on the secret visual arts magic heâ€™s been doing behind the curtain all this time:
I have worked in the curatorial department at the museum for about a year, organizing the installation of about seven major art exhibitions, from concept development to execution.
The art needs to be keep in pristine condition. That’s me cleaning Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 47. (I bet you didn’t know we do that!)
My second day on the job was spent knee-deep in dirt and Styrofoam for the de-install of Katharina Grosse’s One Floor Up More Highly in Building 5. The following week, I was neck-deep in the planning for Gisele Amanteaâ€™s 97 foot long flocked installation, Democracy (pictured above), as part of the exhibition, Oh, Canada. Needless to say, we move quickly here.
Here I am on a lift, getting the wall ready for Wanda Koop’s Look Up, part of Oh, Canada. Good thing I’m not scared of heights…
I also spent a lot of time in the rafters. Here, I’m helping prepare for the opening of more gallery space in a new building.
Ever tried Eryn Fosterâ€™s yeast concoction in Oh, Canada? Iâ€™ve been keeping our culture fresh since the exhibition opened!
Here I am changing the bulbs in Carlos Garacoiaâ€™s No Way Out, on view in ourInvisible Cities exhibition. I spend a significant portion of my workday in the galleries, maintaining artworks and fixing audio/visual equipment.
I’m especially excited about the opening of our upcoming Building 5 exhibition: Xu Bing’s PhoenixÂ (on view December 22 – check it out!). That’s me wearing a hard hat in the gallery during the installation process.
Here I am with my sweet friend Emily Evans, marketing coordinator, at theÂ Invisible Cities opening. Lee Bul’s sculptures are suspended in the background.
I had heard of MASS MoCA before I started working here, but had never actually been. I had followed a few exhibitions closely online, but was spellbound when I saw the renovated factory in person. I remember Meg Robertson, company manager, and Art McConnell, director of building and grounds, showing me the sprawling campus on my first day. I remember the magic that seemed to emanate from every corner, undeveloped or not, and that feeling almost become a trademark for my time here.
â€śDo you believe the stuff youâ€™re saying?â€ť a patron once asked me, after I gave her an admittedly condensed rundown of the history of conceptual art. â€śI believe in MASS MoCA,â€ť I responded. I believe in our ethos and dedication to fostering new art. I believe in our incredible history, the spectacular gallery spaces, our ever-growing roster of talented and creative artists, our amazing staff, and the patrons who continue to visit, year after year.
You might think Iâ€™d tire of looking at â€śthe same old stuffâ€ť everyday, but sometimes I just have to stop and stare. The magic of this place is never lost on me.