MASS MoCA announced today that it has begun removing materials gathered for Training Ground for Democracy and will not permit the public to enter the planned installation which was cancelled on May 21, 2007. Materials and partially completed fabrications for this large-scale installation have been stored in MASS MoCAâ€™s main Building 5 gallery since the artist abandoned the project nine months ago. The front doors to the gallery have been locked, and the materials covered by tarpaulins.
Ever since the artist left MASS MoCA in December 2006, the museum explored every possible avenue in an effort to re-engage the artist, and when those efforts proved futile, the museum offered him the opportunity to retrieve the materials from the museum galleries (reimbursing the museum for its costs), which he declined to do. In late May 2007, MASS MoCA sought a declaratory ruling in the U.S. District Court, Springfield, Massachusetts, to rule on its and the artistâ€™s rights in regards to the unfinished work. Even after bringing suit, however, MASS MoCA sought on numerous occasions to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. None of those efforts were successful.
â€śWith several hundred tons of materials and thousands of objects and partial constructions sitting abandoned in our galleries, we carefully considered what we could do,â€ť said Joseph C. Thompson, MASS MoCAâ€™s director. â€śWe obviously cared a great deal for the work and had expended extraordinary effort and energies to try to bring it into existence; we did not want to act precipitously in either dismantling or displaying it. With no other options, and wanting to move forward as the situation continued to draw resources away from other artists and public programming, we sought a declaration of our respective rights by an impartial party â€“ a federal judge.â€ť
Judge Michael A. Ponsor of the U.S. District Court Second Circuit ruled on Friday, September 21, that MASS MoCA could exercise its curatorial discretion with respect to the materials, including making the assembled materials available for viewing when accompanied by signage explaining that it was an unfinished work.
â€śWe are deeply appreciative of the Courtâ€™s thoughtful scrutiny of this matter. After giving careful deliberation to the interests of many constituents, including the artistâ€™s own views, and factoring in the limited time window available given our normal exhibition cycle — together with other considerations both logistical and philosophical– we have decided to begin removing the materials immediately without placing them on public display. We are eager to return to our core mission to serve as a experimental platform for art-making, and we look forward to commencing work immediately on the previously announced installation by Jenny Holzer, Projections, which will open November 17, 2007.â€ť
For thirty years, Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, the Reichstag, and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. Her medium, whether formulated as a T-shirt, a plaque, an electronic sign or a light projection, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. In Projections, Holzer will use MASS MOCAâ€™s massive Building 5 as the site of her first interior light projections in the United States. She will also exhibit a new series of paintings shown, in part, at the 2007 Venice Biennale.
The museum announced today that in conjunction with The Clark Art Institute, it would co-host a symposium devoted to the issues raised by this case. The symposium will be held later this fall.
With a track record spanning eleven years and including the fabrication of more than 70 new visual arts works, MASS MoCA has a history of creating milestone collaborations with some of the worldâ€™s leading living artists. Coupled with the more than 40 works of performing arts created, rehearsed, or technically enhanced through residency programs, MASS MoCA is one of the nationâ€™s most fertile sites for nurturing and supporting new art in all media. As part of its mission to reveal to its audience the entire spectrum of the art-making process, and to introduce artists to new audiences, in new contexts, MASS MoCA routinely opens its galleries during installation and fabrication, and presents numerous open rehearsals, workshop presentations, and work-in-progress showings.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA juxtaposes a beautifully restored icon of the American industrial past with some of the liveliest, most evocativeâ€”and provocativeâ€”art being made today. Emphasizing art that charts new territory, art that ignores traditional boundaries between the performing and visual arts, and installations that are immersive in scale, MASS MoCA has received some of the nation’s most coveted architectural and historic preservation honors. MASS MoCA presents an unusually varied program, including rollicking dance parties and “silent film/live music” series, and has made a significant contribution to the cultural landscape of New England and the United States, and the socioeconomic landscape of its home community. MASS MoCAâ€™s galleries are open from 11am â€“ 5 pm, closed Tuesdays. For additional information call 413 662 2111.