While I love spur of the moment museum and gallery trips, some require a bit more planning and a visit to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is definitely one that entails some strategy. I’m glad to say that I had the company of the gallerists of GRIN on this my maiden voyage to MASS MoCA. Located a very long, yet scenic, three hour drive away in North Adams, MA, the museum is a sprawling complex of buildings filled with contemporary art. Once an old factory building, MASS MoCA is spacious, filled with light, and a large scale installation artist’s dream museum space. I know that I felt I could house all my larger than life concepts there. The town itself was quite lovely too, surrounded by a small mountain peaks that were inescapable when looking out the windows of the museum.
We began our journey through the museum with the installations and paintings of Teresita Fernandez. She had just given an artist talk a few days before that I’m sad to say we missed as I would have loved to have gotten insights straight from the source. Her Golden series painting evoke images of traditional Chinese landscapes, but in such an opulent way using India Ink on gold chromed panel. The installations Sfumato and Black Sun were mesmerizing, each encompassing their respective spaces and shifting with your every movement.
Moving along upstairs, The Dying of the Light: Film as Medium and Metaphor strikes in the heart of any cinephile who pines for those glory days of celluloid slipping so rapidly from our grasp. I never thought that the sight of a projector could fill my heart with joy and sadness all at once. With the exception of Lisa Oppenheim’s two-channel video installation Smoke and Tacita Dean’s The Green Ray, I was less absorbed by the films themselves than with the experience of the equipment they relied on. It saddens me that film, both in photo and video, are slipping into obscurity and this exhibition played on that string in my heart.
Upstairs as well, we explored Mark Dion’s The Octagon Room, a space with endless curios that just made me chuckle. A drawer with shells and poisons, dredge from the New Bedford Harbor, the ashes of his archives burnt to a crisp; these details must be inspected closely to get a full scope of what you’re encountering. There were certainly larger personal, societal, and political issues at play within the work, but my initial perceptions did not consider these aspects in the moment. I would love to explore The Octagon Room again keeping this in mind.
New Monthly Segment! Welcome to Museum Monday at According to Abigael! This particular segment will be concluded next Monday.