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MASS MoCA’s Fall Season To Include Massive Art Experience

Nick Cave's "Until" is set to open October 15 at MASS MoCA.
Facebook: Nike Cave - Visual Artist
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Nick Cave's "Until" is set to open October 15 at MASS MoCA.

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art announced Wednesday what pieces of art will fill its galleries and who will take over its stages this fall.Director Joseph Thompson says an exhibit by artist Nick Cave will be one of the most visually exciting MASS MoCA has seen in quite some time.

“Nick Cave is inhabiting all of our Building 5 gallery, that’s that signature football field-sized space,” Thompson explained. “Visitors will enter it down the pyramid stairs and dive immediately into what is in effect a kind of hedge forest of holographic, bright, shiny lawn instruments — big spinners — they’ll be hanging from the ceiling all mechanized. It’s this really rich, lush world that you’ll pick your way through.”

“It will be as much like swimming as walking through an exhibition,” added Thompson.

Two teams of 10 people at Cave’s workshop and at MASS MoCA have been working for months to assemble the exhibit and prepare the space. Titled “Until”, Thompson says the piece touches on current events.

“Interspersed with some gut-punching moments,” Thompson said. “Black-faced lawn jockeys, bullets, targets — emblems of a kind of civic unrest that we’re experiencing now as a nation. It might be easy to think that it’s obviously political work. It’s really not. I think he’s [Cave] asking deeper questions, big questions like ‘Is there racism even in heaven?’”

In a type of direct manifestation of MoCA’s focus on both visual and performing arts, the exhibit opens October 15th with a concert by British singer Benjamin Clementine.

More performances are planned with the massive exhibition as a backdrop. Also coming to the North Adams museum this fall is the indie pop group The Magnetic Fields.

MoCA’s communications director Jodi Joseph says the band will take up a residency at the museum.

“They’ll end that run with a two-night world premiere of this 50-song show charting 50 years of the bandleader Stephen Merritt and their chief songwriter,” Joseph said. “It sort of charts his life from his conception by a couple of hippies on a houseboat all the way up until he is this world-renowned, masterful songwriter.” 

The shows on November 18 and 19th will feature at least seven musicians playing 50 instruments. On December 10, MoCA closes out its fall performance season by going grunge with Dinosaur Jr., a local band from Amherst.

“A band that I listened in high school in the 90s though they’ve been around since the 80s,” Joseph said. “J. Mascis is still looked at as one of the forefathers of grunge or grunge rock and one of the most amazing guitarists working in rock n’ roll today.”

MASS MoCA also detailed the day-to-day schedule for its previously announced bluegrass festival lineup in September. The three-day FreshGrass Festival features Old Crow Medicine Show on Saturday, September 17th and Rosanne Cash on the 18th. Single day tickets go on sale August 4th.

Meanwhile, the 27-year-old museum continues to renovate the 26-building, 19th century factory site it calls home. Thompson says Building 6 is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2017, essentially doubling MoCA’s gallery space.

“We’ve got about 110 workers in there putting up steel and sheetrock and doing electrical and plumbing,” Thompson said. “That building will open next May with about 120,000 square feet of new art.”

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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