New summer exhibitions at MASS MoCA and Clark

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Summer is here, how about a road trip? With a multitude of new exhibitions on display, MASS MoCA in North Adams and Clark Art Institute in Williamstown have a lot to offer in the northern corner of Berkshire County, whether for a long day or for a weekend. Here’s a look at a few key things to see at both museums.

James Turrell, “CAVU” at MASS MoCA – For more than 50 years, artist and pilot James Turrell has created unique installations, known as ‘Heavenly Landscapes’, which examine light and space, in an attempt to attempt to capture the depths of the world. human perception. He is an experienced pilot who, as his website says, “considers the sky as his studio”.

At MASS MoCA, Turrell’s latest installation, “CAVU,” joins a series of his works throughout his career that have been on display at the North Adams Museum since 2017. Called “Into the Light,” these installations show how its practice has evolved over the years. Now, “CAVU” is about Turrell’s experience in transforming what he considers a pilot to be an art, for in aviation circles the acronym stands for “Unlimited Ceiling and Visibility.”

Over the course of his career he has designed dozens of installations for museums and private collectors in which he has used wall and ceiling openings, mirrors, lighting technologies, differently painted walls and other means of offering spectators different perceptions of space, light and colors.

“CAVU” was placed in an old cylindrical concrete water tank, extensively redesigned, which now has a retractable roof dome that opens at dusk and dawn to allow natural light to enter and be. complemented by “subtle interior lighting”, according to outlining notes. In broad daylight, the dome is sealed and “transformed into a tightly controlled multisensory environment”, with light and sound projected onto the interior walls and ceiling.

Additionally, the new exhibit features behind-the-scenes “fabrication” drawings, including hand-drawn sketches and other preparatory materials used in the development of “CAVU”. MASS MoCA also opened an exhibition of ceramics Turrell made titled “Lapsed Quaker Ware,” basalt tableware inspired by the work of 18th century English potter Josiah Wedgwood.

Glenn Kaino, “In the Light of a Shadow” – About five years of preparation and planning, “In the Light of a Shadow” is a massive installation along the length of a football field in building 5 of MASS MoCA. Kaino’s initial goal with the project was to link an infamous civilian rights march in Selma, Alabama in March 1965 to a protest march in Derry, Northern Ireland in January 1972.

In both cases, protesters were attacked, in Alabama by police and in Northern Ireland by British troops. In this latest episode, known as “Bloody Sunday”, 14 civilians were shot dead and 12 others injured.

But Kaino, a Japanese-American artist from California, says he has broadened his concept in recent years to invoke events such as the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police in May 2020. “Just like we couldn’t. not imagine the State of the World when we started five years ago, we hope the work on display will inspire viewers to think differently about where we’re headed next, ”he wrote.

Much of “In the Light of a Shadow” follows an elevated promenade that takes viewers past hundreds of objects suspended from the ceiling or lifted from the ground on thin rods: sticks, stones and boulders, photos and postcards, figures of demonstrators carrying placards with simple words such as “revolutionary”. Special lighting turns some of these objects into shadows of different shapes, such as birds and ships, along the walls.

Overhead is a huge serpent-shaped sculpture that recalls the 1979 assassination of a British naval officer by the Irish Republican Army, who hid a bomb on his fishing boat. There is also a circular cage-like sculpture, “Revolutions”, made of suspended metal bars. Each is set to play a specific musical note when struck with a baton, and if struck in sequence, the bars play the melody of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” the 1983 U2 song that commemorates the Derry Massacre. .

Accompanying video shows Paino collaborator Deon Jones inside the sculpture, along with photos of Jones in hospital after being hit in the face with a rubber bullet by police during a protest in Los Angeles last year after the death of George Floyd.

Another novelty at MASS MoCA is “You walk…” by Shaun Leonardo, an installation that combines textual prompts, one-way mirrors and fake windows designed to reflect “a shared physical present,” but which also alludes to “the singular differences that can affect perspective,” as the authors put it. exhibition notes. This is the inaugural exhibit of a new community engagement space at the museum, created with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information on these exhibitions and events, visit massmoca.org.

Nikolai Astrup: “Visions of Norway”, at the Clark Art Institute – Among a number of summer offerings, The Clark opened on June 19 ‘Visions of Norway’, which the museum says is the first-ever North American exhibition dedicated to the work of Nikolai Astrup ( 1880-1928), considered one of the greatest Norwegian painters. His work is inspired, among other things, by landscapes and folk tales from his country, Japanese prints and certain artistic trends in turn-of-the-century Paris.

Astrup, who was also an engraver, was known for his colorful palette and a measure of magical realism in his landscapes showcasing Norway’s rugged mountains, fjord-like lakes and villages of traditional wooden buildings. “A Morning in March”, for example, depicts a lonely tree starting to bloom against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains – but the tree’s short trunk has a humanoid shape, with two distinctive arms, fingers and a dark head, like some Tolkien thing.

There is a carnival feel in some of his works, such as “Midsummer Eve Bonfire,” a 1917 print whose swirling lines and colors are reminiscent of the work of Vincent van Gogh. On a mountain ridge, couples dance, other people raise their arms in joy, and an old man plays the violin. Smoke from a large fire rises over part of the ground, and a pregnant woman looks to one side, invoking a sense of the event as a celebration of fertility.

In contrast, “The Moon in May,” a woodcut, has a calmer sensibility, showing the moon floating above two rounded mountains and projecting a yellow line across a quiet lake; two figures work in a garden in the foreground in a scene which could have come from a Japanese print. The oil painting “Birthday in the Rectory Garden”, by comparison, offers some of the hallmarks of European pastoral paintings of the late 19th century.

“Few artists have created such a singular style, so heavily influenced by a very specific sense of place, as Astrup has done,” Clark director Olivier Meslay said in a statement. “His love of nature, his Norwegian homeland and Nordic folklore and traditions are tangible elements of his work. “

For more information on “Visions of Norway”, which runs until September 19, visit clarkart.edu.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at [email protected]


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