SPNEA explores new territory this year as it collaborates with MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, Massachusetts, on the exhibition Yankee Remix: Artists Take on New England. Two years ago, SPNEA exhibitions staff held a brainstorming session to find ways of broadening our reach and engaging new audiences. The idea of working with a major center for contemporary art, with over 100,000 visitors a year, appealed to us. We invited MASS MoCA Curator Laura Heon to visit SPNEA's Library and Archives, with its vast holdings of historic photographs and ephemera, and the storage facility north of Boston containing thousands of household objects-furniture, wallpaper, decorative objects, and personal effects. Following her visit, the two museums agreed to commission artists to create new works of art that would incorporate some of SPNEA's historic artifacts. The resulting show fills the large second and third floor galleries at MASS MoCA, where it will be on view until Spring 2004.
Nine internationally known artists: Rina Banerjee (India), Annette Messager (France), Martin Pernice (Germany), and Huang Yong Ping (China), along with the Americans Ann Hamilton, Manfred Kersels, Zoe Leonard, Lorna Simpson, and Kennedy & Violich Architects, agreed to participate. Each artist came to SPNEA to explore the collections and select items to use. SPNEA's only stipulation was that no objects could be altered or exposed to any harm. SPNEA conserved the objects as needed, then shipped them to MASS MoCA, where the artists incorporated them into their works.
In one way or another, all the works address issues of memory, history, or cultural identity. Placed in a new context, even the most familiar New England artifact can take on a startling new identity. The collaboration has brought fresh perspectives to the staffs of both SPNEA and MASS MoCA. We know that SPNEA members will want to visit this exciting new museum to see the lively and thought-provoking exhibition for themselves.
Director of Exhibitions