P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2000
March 15, 2001
MASS MoCA Presents First Major Exhibition To Examine Contemporary Artists' Exploration of Games
Game Show ÷ May 27, 2001 through April 2002
Exhibition includes works by Sophie Calle, Perry Hoberman, Christian Jankowski, Uri Tzaig, and a vast visual pun commissioned from Kay Rosen
Concurrent exhibitions of Fluxus Games and …yvind Fahlstršm retrospective open June 16
(May 15, 2001 -- North Adams, MA) Throughout the 20th century the world of games ÷ with its inversions of mastery, dependence on chance, and reliance on both verbal and physical play ÷ has intrigued and inspired visual artists. With its new exhibition Game Show, opening on May 27, 2001, MASS MoCA presents the first major exhibition to explore how artists have adapted game structures and themes in their work.
Game Show will focus on the proliferation of artists' "games" during the 1990s, concentrating on new media work and including pieces by Sophie Calle, Perry Hoberman, Natalie Bookchin, Christian Jankowski, Uri Tzaig, Danny O, Jodi, Lonnie Flickinger, Maciej Wisniewski, Thompson & Craighead, Christoph Draeger, and Chris Finley. MASS MoCA has also commissioned a new work by Kay Rosen for the exhibition.
In addition, Game Show features a performing arts series that will include events with Philip Glass, Rinde Eckert, Shirin Neshat, Bang on a Can, and others.
MASS MoCA is also publishing a comprehensive catalogue to complement the 13,000-square foot exhibition.
For the net art section of Game Show, MASS MoCA worked with rhizome.org founders Mark Tribe and Alex Galloway. Rhizome served as curators for this portion of Game Show, selecting the works to be shown and contributing an essay for the Game Show catalog as well as catalog entries on the individual works.
Game Show is sponsored by The Porches Inn. Additional funding for Game Show is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
While the concepts of chance, rule systems, and play are at the heart of 20th century philosophy and critical thought, the role of games in the visual and performing arts has been left virtually unexplored. MASS MoCA's Game Show is the first exhibition to bring together many of the diverse and innovative works that take the richness of games as their starting point. This timely exhibition reveals the broad appeal and pervasiveness of games, and looks at the special role that new media plays in recent game-based art.
Game Show is divided into three sections, each featuring works in which the artist plays a different role.
Games Visitors Play
In this section of the exhibition, visitors are invited to participate in interactive works in which they become part of a game.
Kay Rosen, The Sight and Sound of Music (2001)
The Sight and Sound of Music is a gargantuan, 40-foot-tall, 130-foot-long site-specific word game that visitors must decode to understand. Rosen, who trained as a linguist before becoming an artist, creates works that force new and surprising meanings from words through the placement of letters, font changes, and scale shifts. The Sight of Music is a visually engaging, tongue-in-cheek pun revolving around the popular title song from the musical, The Sound of Music.
Chris Finley, Level One: One-eyed Gallactic Gutterball Pig Mantra (1997), Boing Splat Flat with Yellow Jacket Bat (1997), Alligator (1997) and Damn Mosquitoes (1997)
In these works Chris Finley, a sculptor, painter, and installation artist, combines painting, gadgets, computer graphics, images, toys, and trampolines to create an artistic funhouse that the visitor must navigate by crawling, jumping, and performing mental gymnastics. Both video games and the Internet have inspired Finley's work, which sends the visitor through a physical and psychological obstacle course. The work deliberately seeks to disorient and confuse visitors, who find they have entered a Super Mario Brothers version of Barbie's Dream House.
Perry Hoberman, Cathartic User Interface (C.U.I.) (1995/2000)
C.U.I. is an interactive, multi-participant installation that plays off modern-day computer frustrations. It provides users a chance to act out their conflicting emotions concerning the benevolent yet pernicious influences of computer technology on their lives. Visitors pitch "Koosh balls" at a wall covered with obsolete PC keyboards, triggering an array of multimedia projections and sounds evoking some of the troubling aspects of technology. A ramp at the bottom returns the balls to the users for maximum cathartic effect. Hoberman provides participants with relief from their aggravation, but, ironically, uses the source for their angst as the salve.
The works in this section of the exhibition are original games that the artist has played.
Sophie Calle, Double Game (1999)
A bizarre and convoluted collaboration between artist Sophie Calle and novelist Paul Auster, Double Game has three parts. First Calle set up elaborate role-playing games for herself and documented them with photographs, texts, and installations beginning in the early 1980s. These projects inspired Auster to create a fictional character named Maria in his novel Leviathan that was based on the real-life Calle's work. Maria played several of the same games as Calle (such as hiring a detective to tail her) as well as games of Auster's creation (such as eating food of only one color each day of the week). For the second part of Double Game Calle played and documented Maria's new games and for the third part, Calle asked Auster to devise an additional set of games for her, which they called the Gotham Handbook.
Christoph Draeger, TWA 800, #4 (2001); I.C.E. 886: the great German train disaster (1999); Tornado, Kissimee, Florida (1999); Tornado, Spencer, South Dakota (1999); Hurricane Andrew (1993); Puzzled (1998); Apocalypse #1 (1996); Apocalypse #2 (1996)
In these works by Draeger, a series of large-scale photographs of disaster zones and reconstructions of aircraft that have crashed are die cut into jigsaw puzzles. The images juxtapose the mundane nature of puzzles, which usually depict idyllic landscapes, with motifs of disaster and terrorism. Draeger's eerily lighthearted works avoid a sense of tragedy despite the calamities they depict.
Games Artists Orchestrate
In these works, artists create or manipulate a game that others play.
Uri Tzaig, Universal Square (2000)
The artist invited two soccer teams - one made up of Jewish Israelis, the other Arab Israelis - to take part in an unusual soccer game. While their play was governed by the standard rules of soccer, Tzaig stipulated the teams were to conduct the game with two balls. This shifted the emphasis of the game from winning to playing, and forced players to create entirely new rules. Tzaig's game allowed these two teams to interact in a space (the Universal Square of the playing field) removed from their conflict-ridden reality.
In addition to the Game Show installation, two special concurrent exhibitions opening June 16 examine artists' games of the past century, adding a historical perspective on today's art/game phenomenon.
The first exhibition, drawn largely from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Foundation Collection, will focus on how Fluxus artists used wit, love of language games, and a purposefully childlike approach in their otherwise disparate work.
The second companion exhibition will be the only U.S. showing of …yvind Fahlstršm, a comprehensive retrospective of this important artist's work organized by the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).
Fahlstršm (1928-1976) was a pioneer in the use of game structures ÷ and the legacy of his ideas is visible in many of the works in Game Show. A long-time resident of three nations, Fahlstršm was an antiwar activist and an advocate for social justice and as well as an artist and poet. He worked in numerous different media and created a new form of painting, called "variable painting," in which the viewer could rearrange Fahlstršm's works in an infinite number of ways. This technique predated by 20 years the current enthusiasm for interactivity in the art world. The Fahlstršm exhibit will feature three of the artist's room-sized installations.
Funding for Season
General support for MASS MoCA's 2001 season is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Peter Norton Family Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency; Foster and Penny Devereux; Peter and Leslie Tolan; the Susan & Duncan Brown Family; Peter and Michele Willmott; James and Joan Hunter; Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick; Nancy Fitzpatrick and Lincoln Russell; Mary and Henry Flynt; Allan and Judy Fulkerson; Carmela and Paul Haklisch; Holiday Inn Berkshires; the LEF Foundation; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Economic Development/Office of Travel and Tourism; Berkshire Broadcasting Company; Evelyn Nef; Bo Peabody and Caroline Morris; The Hauser Foundation; Theodore and Renee Weiler Foundation; The Whitehead Foundation; and Robert W. Wilson.
MASS MoCA As Catalyst for Exploration and Change
In less than three years since its public opening, MASS MoCA has established a reputation for organizing thought-provoking exhibitions, commissioning innovative new works, presenting exceptional performing arts and public programs, and moving beyond the traditional definition of an arts institution to help drive the economic revival of North Adams, Massachusetts. Attendance at MASS MoCA has exceeded projections, and its programs have drawn large and enthusiastic regional and national audiences.
MASS MoCA serves as a testing ground for works that explore new territory, and employ new media, technologies, and materials. The institution shares the behind-the-scenes process of creation with visitors and artists alike, and challenges the conventional distinctions between artistic disciplines and between art and technology.
MASS MoCA's exhibitions and installations have ranged from the major exhibition Unnatural Science - which featured works that use science as a springboard for fantastic investigations - to billboards on the highways leading to the MASS MoCA complex, sound art installations on- and off-site, the first exhibition to bring together Mona Hatoum's work exploring the domestic, and exhibitions of the work of Laylah Ali, Joseph Beuys, and Mario Merz.
MASS MoCA has commissioned new works by such visual artists as Tim Hawkinson, whose †berorgan filled a football field-sized gallery; Natalie Jeremijenko, whose Tree Logic consists of six live maple trees suspended upside-down in MASS MoCA's entrance courtyard; and Tony Oursler's Optics, which was created in collaboration with Kleiser-Walczak Construction Company, a digital special-effects firm and a MASS MoCA commercial tenant.
MASS MoCA also hosts a successful residency program for performing artists, offering theatrical innovators, dancers, and musicians the time and space to polish new works. Each of the "MASS Manufacturing" residencies culminates in a public work-in-progress showing of the new work. Artists who have participated in the MASS Manufacturing program include David Dorfman, Lee Breuer and Basil Twist with Mabou Mines, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women, among others.
MASS MoCA has garnered national architectural awards including an honor award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and another from the American Institute of Architects for the preservation and adaptive reuse of its 13-acre, 27-building site.
In addition to being the largest center for contemporary arts in the country, MASS MoCA is an economic development engine that is helping to revitalize the long-depressed mill town of North Adams, where the center is located. Numerous e-commerce, new media, and communications technology firms rent space in the MASS MoCA complex, creating a campus that joins the arts, new media endeavors, and entrepreneurial ventures. In addition to bringing new jobs to the region, MASS MoCA runs a computer center that offers training and computer access to the residents of North Adams. The opening of MASS MoCA was a critical element in triggering a vastly reduced rate of unemployment, increased commercial occupancy downtown, and the relocation of businesses to North Adams.
For Immediate Release