P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2001
November 12, 2001
MASS MoCA to Present U.S. Premiere of Robert Wilson's Monumental 14 Stations
December 9, 2001 through October, 2002
Wilson Interprets Passion Play to Create Immersive Theater of the Gallery
Wilson work is a vast Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) along which the fourteen moments of the Passion of Christ are presented in a series of large-scale environments. The piece is not a literal rendering of the 14 Stations, nor is it intended as a religious reenactment. Wilson's personal, open-ended, and at times abstract interpretations of the stations invite multiple readings. Wilson seeks to offer a universal experience by using the basic Christian story as the underpinning for his work in which image, sculpture, light, sound, and the visitors' own movement through space all become "characters" in Wilson's representation.
Visitors enter the work through a wide transept-like building and proceed down the "nave", a boardwalk flanked by 12 Shaker-style chapels or cottages. Each cottage houses a dramatic tableau which can be viewed through a small window, with many of the scenes featuring sound and all dramatically illuminated in Wilson's precise, signature style. In these intimate chapels boulders dangle from the ceiling and slowly revolve, hand-carved red wolves menace the viewer against a backdrop of a romantic mountainscape, and stuffed birds soar with disturbing realism. For the final station Wilson constructed a teepee of 25' tall saplings and thatch that structurally echoes a church apse and evokes resurrection.
The 14 Stations refers to the moments of passion through which Christ passed on the way toward crucifixion. In the Middle Ages pilgrims performed ceremonial reenactments of the suffering of Christ and the saints to attain spiritual enlightenment. Routes were ritual walkways, and the act of pilgrimage strengthened the identification of the pilgrim-worshipper with the story. In 14 Stations, Wilson explores this rich source of art-historical and religious imagery, translating themes typically reserved for painting, stained glass, and sculptural relief into a complete environment. Invited by the organizers of the Passion Play to create a large outdoor installation in conjunction with the play's 40th consecutive presentation ö the event has been staged in Oberammergau every decade since 1634. In Germany the installation was sited in a grassy meadow outside the Passionspielhaus.
Born in Waco, Texas, Robert Wilson was educated at the University of Texas and Brooklyn's Pratt Institute. He studied painting with George McNeil in Paris and later worked with the architect Paolo Solari in Arizona. Moving to New York City in the mid-1960s, Wilson found himself drawn to the work of pioneering choreographers George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, and Martha Graham, among others artists. Wilson's theatrical works include Deafman Glance, Einstein on the Beach with Philip Glass, The Black Rider with Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs, the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down, Death Destruction & Detroit, Alice, Time Rocker with Lou Reed, POE-try, The Forest, Cosmopolitan Greetings with Allen Ginsburg, Alcestis with Laurie Anderson, Alice in Bed and Lady from the Sea with Susan Sontag, and Great Day in the Morning with Jessye Norman, as well as numerous operas.
A recipient of two Rockefeller and two Guggenheim fellowships, Wilson has been honored with numerous awards for excellence and in 1986 was the sole nominee for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for the CIVIL warS. While celebrated for his theatrical pieces, Wilson is also firmly rooted in the visual realm. His drawings, paintings, and sculpture have been presented around the world, and he is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for lifetime achievement, as well as the Golden Lion for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale. Major Wilson exhibitions have appeared at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (February 1991); the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (November 1991); the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston (1991); and the Instituto de Valencia de Arte Moderno (September 1992).
Wilson's 14 Stations was commissioned by the city of Oberammergau to accompany its world-renowned Passion Play, and in particular to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the production. The Passion Play originated in 1633, when, to spare the city from the plague, the citizens made a vow to produce it. It was performed for the first time in 1634, and the citizens of Oberammergau have produced it continuously every 10 years since then. The play has become a major pilgrimage event, with over half a million visitors from all over the world coming to Oberammergau to see the play throughout its 20-week run through the summer and fall.
14 Stations at MASS MoCA is partially funded by Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes Boston.
MASS MoCA is open from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. and closed Tuesdays. 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. Gallery admission is $7 adults, $5 for seniors and students, $2 children 6 - 16, and free for children under 6. Members are admitted free at all times. For additional information call 413 662 2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.
For Immediate Release