Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day 170: Dispatch from the Berkshires

North Adams street with The Porches and Nina Katchadourian's Fall's Colors in foreground.

We've spent the weekend in the Berkshires. Highlights include catching up with wonderful friends from Canada, seeing the much anticipated Badlands exhibition at MASS MoCA, de-installing our weary Aperture project at The Porches (stay tuned for another project this spring or summer), and conducting a self-guided independent book store tour between North Adams and Northampton, MA.

Although this area feels remote and is populated with tiny towns and villages, it is incredible to also sense how active, and tapped into larger forces it can be simultaneously. Many of the small towns in this area are steeped in new New England tradition- which means that many and have been incubators for massive creative expression and social/political change. It seems fitting in that vein then, that the Badlands exhibition, with many works created in response to the local area, proclaims that it, "pens the next chapter in the landscape tradition, addressing contemporary ideas of exploration, population of the wilderness, land usage, environmental politics and the relativity of aesthetic beauty. Badlands comes at this critical time, an era when the world is more ecologically aware yet more desperately in need of solutions than ever before. The artists in this exhibition share this collective anxiety ­ some turn to the past to see how their predecessors negotiated the terrain of the landscape while some propose entirely new ideas. While deeply aware of the legacy of the landscape, each of these artist reinvents the genre to produce works that look beyond vast beauty to address current environmental issues." I'm not sure that Badlands is actually the start of a new movement, but it certainly adds a meaningful contribution to what is currently unfolding and gathering (all around the world) in response to the contemporary envioronmental moment- and signals the incredible forces that make this particular place so remarkable.

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