P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
April 25, 2002
Viva Vienna Dance Party at MASS MoCA Kicks Off The Vienna Project
(North Adams, Mass.) MASS MoCA, the Clark Art Institute, and the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) will kick off their unprecedented collaboration, The Vienna Project, with a wide-ranging, free-wheeling dance party at MASS MoCA on Saturday, May 25, at 7:00 PM. This joint party marking the opening of MASS MoCA's major exhibition Uncommon Denominator: New Art from Vienna and the impending opening of Vienna-themed exhibitions at the Clark Art Institute and WCMA will feature the band Sex Mob, providing retro waltz music with special Viennese guest artist saxophonist Max Nagl. The evening morphs into a techno dance party with Blow Up! Vienna, a DJ/VJ collective who will mix electronic music with projected images from the three museums' summer shows.
"We are very pleased to be able to collaborate with our closest museum neighbors in this focus on Vienna this summer, and delighted that we could host a grand opening at MASS MoCA," said Joseph C. Thompson, director of MASS MoCA. "We found a great band that's up to the challenge of taking the waltz into the 21st century, but we've also booked a really exciting show from Blow Up! Vienna to follow."
"The Vienna Project has been an ambitious undertaking for all the cultural institutions that are involved, and Viva Vienna will be a fitting start to what promises to be a very exciting summer and fall at the three museums," commented Michael Conforti, director of the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute.
Dance party ticket-holders will be admitted free to the galleries anytime on Saturday for a first glimpse at the newest work from Vienna. Uncommon Denominator features works by 15 artists and will be at MASS MoCA through March 2003. For the show MASS MoCA commissioned new works from 3 artists, and the opening party will be the first chance to see several exciting new wall drawings and installations. Work by Vienna's best known living artist, Franz West, will also be on display in his show Merciless.
Sex Mob was enthusiastically received and critically acclaimed this winter during their stop at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington. The Berkshire Eagle called their music "visceral, exhilarating... nonstop, surprising, avant-garde party music." Fronted by Steven Bernstein, Sex Mob is one of the most celebrated ensembles in contemporary jazz, and one of the mainstays of New York's downtown jazz scene. The New York Times says, "Sex Mob is what jazz could use about now....it leaps out at you with a shockingly hot sound."
Armed with three chords and the truth, Sex Mob has been on a mission since its birth in 1995 when the Knitting Factory in New York City asked Bernstein to curate a house band at the fabled Tap Bar. Soon the Mob was named "Best New York City Band" by both Time Out New York and CitySearch.com. The Village Voice summed up their thoughts in a two-word headline: "MOB RULES!" The jazz world was the first institution to jump on the Sex Mob bandwagon, and the group soon found itself with invitations to play at nearly every major jazz festival in Europe - which they gladly accepted. Today, Sex Mob goes leagues beyond the jazz at their core and way up into funk, punk, pop, and now waltz.
For the techno dance portion of the evening, the trans-Atlantic DJ/VJ collective Blow Up! Vienna will provide a one-of-a-kind visual/sound performance. Blow Up! Vienna is a collaboration of Boston-based Swipe and Vienna-based MVD. Swipe works on the audio portion of the show. Their creative process has been likened to improvisation, a group pop experiment that expands the ideas around performance, media, and electronica, mixing different concepts and turning them into modernized music. MVD is a digital network that specializes in creating arresting visual imagery. Their process involves retrieving existing or taping new raw content from a variety of media sources and then capturing, editing, and remolding it into fresh, memorable content. The collective describes its work as "new media placed in the social context of live performance." In addition to the images from the three summer exhibitions, BlowUP! Vienna will use new footage from the northern Berkshires and found images of Vienna to create their work.
Tickets for the opening will include admission to the galleries so visitors can take in MASS MoCA's exhibition Uncommon Denominator: New Art from Vienna. The galleries will feature extended hours, remaining open until 7:00 when the dance party begins. Uncommon Denominator features dozens of lush, richly painted canvases and beautifully rendered large-scale wall drawings from artists working in Vienna today. These pieces draw on the history of decorative patterning (as seen in the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the neighboring Clark Art Institute in Williamstown) and a strong tradition of painterly gesture in Vienna. Vienna is also home to artists who challenge established art forms with wit, cunning, and subtle innuendo, much of which is informed by Vienna's geopolitical location at the crossroads of east and west Europe. Many of the pieces in the exhibition are examples of these taut, conceptual works.
Viva Vienna Dance Party will take place under the stars in MASS MoCA's dramatic Courtyard D if the weather is fine or be moved inside to the Hunter Center in case rain threatens. Special Viennese food and drink will be available throughout the evening. Dance instructors arranged by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival will offer waltz lessons at the start of the evening. The dance party is co-presented by the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute in conjunction with the Williams College Museum of Art. The opening party and the exhibition are both sponsored by The Porches Inn. Additional support for Uncommon Denominator is provided by the Austrian Cultural Forum-New York, and the City of Vienna Department of Cultural Affairs.
Tickets to Viva Vienna Dance Party are $17 adults/$8 kids. Members of MASS MoCA, the Clark, and WCMA receive special discounted admission of $14. Tickets are available by calling the MASS MoCA box office at 413 662 2111 or visiting www.massmoca.org. Tickets may also be purchased in person from 11 AM - 5 PM every day except Tuesday at the MASS MoCA box office, 87 Marshall St., North Adams, Massachusetts.
For The Vienna Project eleven of the leading cultural organizations in the Berkshires will bring an exciting and provocative array of Viennese visual and performing arts - from classic to contemporary - to the Berkshires in the summer of 2002. Arts in the Berkshires: The Vienna Project will include visual arts, music, theater, and film.
Participating organizations include the Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Opera, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Berkshire Choral Festival, Norman Rockwell Museum, Shakespeare & Company, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA, Tanglewood, William College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. For more information visit www.BerkshireArts.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on a 13- acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of visual and performing artists charting new territory.
For Immediate Release