All Utopias Fell Opening This Saturday

Walk behind MASS MoCA’s lobby, past a previously unused part of campus that exists somewhere amid derelict industrial artifact and developed exhibition space, through the remnant of Sprague Electric’s power plant, up numerous sets of stairs, and across a suspended steel overpass. What you’ll find is that somewhere along the way you’ve forgotten where you are in space and time and crossed the threshold into another world: the world of Donald Carusi as brought to you by artist Michael Oatman.

The world that you can expect to enter is one of complexity and thoughtfully organized disarray. It’s as if you’ve stepped into the middle of a movie set, where an elaborate narrative is implied. Mis-en-scene takes on a whole new meaning in the intricate architectural choices, ambitious level of detail, and purposeful editing of interior elements. Layer upon layer of seemingly disconnected objects meld into one another to create an environment that is at once familiar, mysteriously foreign, and sure to appeal to the naturally inquisitive periphery of the human mind.

Oatman labels his technique as an installation artist “maximum collage” and “unvironment”, but finds that neither term truly encompasses the breadth of the artistic channels that he utilizes in his multifaceted projects. All Utopias Fell, his latest installation open to the public on October 23rd, is comprised of three interconnected parts. Codex Solis is a series of solar panels and mirrors atop Building 5 that follows the textual composition of a quote by an unnamed author. The Shining is a spaceship that has mysteriously crash landed outside of the museum after 30 years of space travel, absent of its previous occupant. Enter through the silver vessel and into The Library of the Sun, Donald Carusi’s hermitage and former dwelling space where objects that exist as a residue of their intrinsic history are recontextualized to transport viewers into the missing inhabitant’s peculiar and enigmatic life.

The most discerning viewers may spend hours perusing over the space, yielding to the desire to piece together the skeletal remains of Donald Carusi’s solitary existence. A number of objects will undoubtedly lead viewers to the conclusion that Carusi was an investigator and experimenter of sorts. A copious amount of sun photographs, diagrams, and images are plastered to the interior of the space ship, referencing Carusi’s interest in the sun as both a scientific phenomenon and cultural symbol. A technical control panel reminiscent of something you might imagine in an early rocket ship is a reminder of the previous whereabouts of the craft. Other items such as jarred food, a record collection, spare building parts, hanging yarn God’s eyes, and a personal library of engineering, astronomy, nuclear power, and fiction books seem more colloquial, but are no less imbedded with symbolism and clues. These items combine to provide an intensified viewing experience that exists at first as a grain of something that we can relate to and then as a place where we become lost and engage with the art.

Although on the campus of MASS MoCA, All Utopias Fell seems to preserve the absence of gravity in space. Michael Oatman also preserves and is inspired by what artist Marcel Duchamp believed was a central component to the art experience: viewer exchange and interaction. DuChamp says, “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act”. So indulge your appetite for art that is as thought-provoking as it is aesthetically pleasing and join us for the opening reception of Michael Oatman’s All Utopias Fell this Saturday, October 23rd from 2-4 p.m.

written by Sarah Borup

Posted October 20, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Openings
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Material World Sneak Peek

There is still plenty of work to be done to complete our newest exhibition Material World, opening on Saturday April 24. Below are a few snapshots of what you can see in the galleries right now.

blog7 Read the rest of this entry »

Posted April 22, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Material World, Openings

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No finer place for sure


Downstreet Art is in full swing in downtown North Adams.  While MASS MoCA has a gallery which features original art for the third chapter of George Cochrane’s Long Time Gone and there’s a spectacular space on Main Street designed by Kidspace artist Matt Bua and created by local students, there are many other galleries.  We’ll be spotlighting one here each week hoping to be able to cover them all by October.

This week, we stopped by 28 Holden Street (the gallery just next door to the Cochrane space) which has a show called Works and Days by Mark W. Mulherrin.  This survey of 39 years of Mark’s work is presented in three parts, you only have a few more days to see the first part, the second part opens on July 30.  (There are many things happening on the evening of July 30, openings, performances and the like, so its a good time to visit if you haven’t yet.)

The first part of Mark’s show was curated by our good friend David Lachman whose you might recognize from our ad campaign).  Chuck Webster curates the second part while Rich Remsberg does the third.

The exhibition consists of works on paper, paintings, installations and text.  Mark’s  work is eclectic — it explores the various consolations of myth, the uses of wit, the mirror of the archaic, what breaks us and what heals.

Posted July 21, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, North Adams, Openings
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Not quite ready for Hollywood

MASS MoCA director Joe Thompson offers these thoughts on his star turn in Guy Ben-Ner’s new film.

I spent most of last week artist Guy Ben-Ner, cinematographer John Russell Foster, sound guru Roger Phenix  our own curator/producer Susan Cross, and problem-solver Eugene Rutligliano, taking a star turn as a perfectly cast museum director/pilot/fool, in Guy’s new video installation which will premier here on May 23rd.

God, was it excruciating, and a lot of fun.

I am a truly terrible actor which Guy kept saying was “perfect, no, really, Joe, it’s ok, it’s ok.”  Though Guy’s dense, sometimes archaic, dialogue was a challenge, it really wasn’t really so difficult as to be a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted May 14, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Openings, Work-in-progress
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Building his CRIB

Matt Bua arrived yesterday in a snowstorm and in just 24 hours he’s made enormous progress toward his upcoming installation in Kidspace which opens with a Family Celebration on Saturday, March 21.

He’s creating his installation from hundreds of pieces of detritus — the flotsam and jetsam of life that he has found on city streets.

Here’s a peek inside one of the still-to-be-unpacked crates he brought.

Some of the things he’s already unpacked are batteries,

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Posted March 3, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Kidspace, Openings
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Love for LeWitt

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing #999

Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing #999

We have been delighted to see so many glowing reviews of the Sol LeWitt Retrospective since we opened the new building last month. My Google Alert has been filled to the brim with reviews from bloggers and websites and we have amassed a collection of reviews from newspapers and magazines around the country.

Check out what the critics have to say about the installation:

Included here are links to some of our favorite reviews including Sebastian Smee’s review for The Boston Globe,  the review on art/design blog Cool Hunting, Holland Cotter’s review for The New York Times, and Richard Lacayo in Time, Andrea Shea’s piece on NPR, and Roger Catlin in The Hartford Courant.

We’d love to hear what you think of LeWitt.

Posted December 9, 2008 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, LeWitt, Openings

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