Big Space Art in Massachusetts
Artists working in spectacular proportions.
Open since 1999, The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is the largest centre for contemporary art in the United States. A former printworks, and later serving as an electronics plant, this gargantuan network of industrial sheds boasts a gallery space as large as a football field, two performance courtyards and an outdoor cinema. It's therefore little wonder that it attracts artists who work in similarly spectacular proportions: Katharina Grosse has filled its halls with her neon geological constructions, while Federico Diaz has created a 20-foot-high undulating wave of black balls, which smashes against a museum wall.
In her installation, One More Up More Highly, Grosse seeks to subvert the way that time and space is appreciated. Her works dwarf and dazzle the viewer: giant mounds of soil and constructed boulders rise from the floor covered in a cacophony of sprayed-on colour, while pigment shoots across floors and bleeds up walls, thus blurring the distinction between the flat and the perpendicular.
In this way Grosse seeks to play with our perception of structure and space: she sprays around square shapes to create doorframes that aren't there, and creates illusive distances through use of contrasting colours. Coolly complemented by the angular shards of styrofoam that jut to the ceiling, Grosse turns the gallery into an amorphous other place, where senses and perceptions are simultaneously duped and seduced.
The process involved in the creation of Diaz's installation, Geometric Death Frequency-141, is crucial to its appreciation. Diaz took a digital photo of MASS MoCA's clock tower entry courtyard, transformed it into pure data, then rendered the data stream into a 3D sculpture using computer-aided manufacturing methodologies. 420,000 black spheres were singularly created and assembled by robots into a 20-foot-high structure, which rises up from the ground to slap against the walls of the museum. At no point did Diaz's hands touch it.
What is perhaps most striking about the work is its deeply commanding naturalistic qualities, coupled with its mechanical construct and the consciousness that it has been created entirely by machines. Something as dry and seemingly sterile as computer mechanics has created a structure of intense organic force.
One More Up More Highly will be open until October 2011, while Geometric Death Frequency-141 will be installed until March 2012.