P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2004
April 5, 2004
MASS MoCA Surveys the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life with New Exhibition The Interventionists May 30, 2004, through Spring 2005
(North Adams, Mass.) Over the course of the 1990s, the term "intervention" was increasingly used by politically engaged artists to describe their interdisciplinary approaches, which nearly always took place outside the realm of museums, galleries and studios. A decade later, these "interventionists" continue to create an impressive body of work that trespasses into the everyday world art that critiques, lampoons, interrupts, and co-opts, art that acts subtlety or with riotous fanfare, and art that agitates for social change using magic tricks, faux fashion and jacked-up lawn mowers. The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere, MASS MoCA's summer exhibition, opening May 29, 2004, surveys recent and current interventionist practices, showcasing the work of 29 artists and collectives, including eight newly commissioned works.
In contrast to the sometimes heavy-handed political art of the 1980s, interventionist practitioners have begun to carve out compelling new paths for artistic practice, coupling hard-headed politics with a light-handed approach, embracing the anarchist Emma Goldman's dictum that revolutions and dancing belong together. The projects in The Interventionists – whether they are discussions of urban geography, tents for homeless people, or explorations of current labor practices – are often seasoned with honey rather than vinegar.
The Interventionists, as an exhibition and as a catalogue, is divided into four subcategories.
Nomads: The works in this section are tools for a mobile society – tents or vehicles which in many cases are intended for displaced peoples – made by e-Xplo, Haha, N55, Lucy Orta, William Pope.L, Michael Rakowitz , Rubén Ortiz Torres, Dré Wapenaar, and Krzysztof Wodiczko. This section will feature new commissions by William Pope.L, e-Xplo, and Haha. Pope.L's piece, Black Factory, is a touring box truck with machines for pulverizing objects associated with blackness and for creating new objects (and meanings) from the powder. The truck will tour to several locations where participants will be invited to contribute items of blackness to it. E-Xplo's contribution is Roundabout - Love at Leisure : Help me Stranger – a 20-minute bus tour with an audio guide investigating hidden histories of North Adams and Williamstown. The bus will provide daily transport from the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown to MASS MoCA in North Adams. Haha's Taxi, North Adams consists of a digital sign triggered by Global Positioning System mounted on top of a North Adams taxi. It will provide messages targeted to specific locations in the city, changing as the cab moves around. Originally designed to advertise for specific neighborhood markets, this technology is being used by Haha to broadcast messages of topical, local interest submitted by North Adams residents.
Reclaim the Streets: Actions that occur within the public sphere – on sidewalks, in parks and malls tailored to specific communities are featured in this section. Artists include: Craig Baldwin's Billboard Outlaws, Biotic Baking Brigade, God Bless Graffiti Coalition, Haha, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, William Pope.L, Oliver Ressler and Dario Azzellini, Reverend Billy, StreetRec, , Valerie Tevere, and Alex Villar.
Ready to Wear. These artists produce tools and clothing for specific political uses. Designed like a suit of armor or gear for a specific sport, these clothes provide shelter and protection and facilitate political activism among other things. Artists include: Lucy Orta, Rubén Ortiz Torres, Krzysztof Wodiczko, The Yes Men, and YOMANGO. Included in "Ready to Wear" is The Ultimate Jacket from the Center for Tactical Magic. Designed to hold a vast array of items for everyday interdiction, the jacket is made from an abrasive-resistant, non-reflective, breathable, waterproof material. Fully reversible with removable sleeves, The Ultimate Jacket is the perfect rig for any tactical operation, emergency situation, or social occasion.
The Experimental University: Artists in this section use anthropology, biology, geography, and other scientific disciplines for artistic or political purposes, rather than for scientific goals. By taking experiments out of the laboratory and placing them in new contexts within the museum or on the sidewalk, these artists seek to give viewers access to new information, and the capacity to reach their own conclusions about technical or environmental matters that might otherwise seem remote and untouchable. Artists include: 16 Beaver, Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz de Costa, Tana Hargest, J. Morgan Puett, Spurse, subRosa, and The Atlas Group. The Atlas Group is an imaginary, non-profit research foundation, founded by media artist Walid Ra'ad in 1999 in Beirut to explore the contemporary history of Lebanon and, in particular, some of the unexamined dimensions of the Lebanese wars (1975-1991). His work in the show, The Truth Will be Known When the Last Witness is Dead, displays the documents of the fictional Dr. Fadl Fakhouri two notebooks, two film/videotapes, and photographs. A new commission will come from Spurse. The still-to-be-titled work will use found sound based on random wanderings through the North Adams community. The sounds will be played on small tape recorders juxtaposed with North Adams archival material as well as recorded interviews with local residents.
The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere is curated by MASS MoCA assistant curator Nato Thompson. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog which will serve as an introductory guide to and survey of interventionist strategies. This user's manual of interventionist practices will include essays by Gregory Sholette, founding member of the New York art collective REPOhistory (1989-2000) and PAD/D or Political Art Documentation and Distribution (1980-1986), Nicolas Mirzoef, Associate Professor, Art History at SUNY Stony Brook since 1998 and Thompson. The catalog will be distributed by MIT Press.
The Interventionists exhibition, outreach programs, and educational activities and materials have been funded in part by a MetLife Foundation Museum Connections Program grant, along with generous support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, LEF New England, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Artists' Resource Trust (a Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation), Massachusetts Cultural Council, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Holly Angell Hardman and the Peter Norton Foundation.
In addition to the exhibition at MASS MoCA, as part of The Interventionists the museum will partner with the neighboring Contemporary Artists Center (CAC) to present a series of lectures and symposia. Talks at the CAC which will run throughout the summer before and after the exhibition opens include: Nato Thompson, curator of The Interventionists, introducing the exhibition and its contents; Ondine Chavoya in conversation with, Rubén Ortiz Torres; Patricia Phillips, a professor at SUNY New Paltz offering a history of public art; Wendy Jacob, member of the collaborative group Haha, discussing their Taxi Sign Project; and the collective subRosa discussing their part of The Interventionists.
MASS MoCA is the country's largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts and is located in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a restored 19th-century factory campus. September 1 through June 30, MASS MoCA's galleries are open 11 – 5 every day except Tuesdays. In July and August the galleries are open from 10-6 every day. Gallery admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6 – 16, and free for children under 6. Members admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413 662 2111 or visit www.massmoca.org. MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall St. in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release