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“These Days: Elegies for Modern Times” Opening at MASS MoCA

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"Escape Artist (Primary Colours)" by Sam Taylor-Wood

These days I seem to think about
How all the changes came about my way
And I wonder if I’ll see another highway

      —Jackson Browne

These Days: Elegies for Modern Times, the new exhibit opening on April 4 at MASS MoCA, gets its name from a Jackson Browne song that was originally recorded by Nico and the Velvet Underground in 1967.  But the show’s curator, Denise Markonish, only chose the title after she started commissioning new work from four artists—George Bolster, Chris Doyle, Micah Silver and Pawel Wojtasik—and selecting practically brand new works by Robert Taplin and Sam Taylor-Wood.

“I had been working on the show a while before I landed on the final title,” says Markonish. “I always knew the show was about the elegy and had been reading a lot and considering some more poetry driven titles—a key quote relating to the show comes from a Rainer Maria Rilke sonnet ‘And all things hushed. Yet even in that silence a new beginning, beckoning, change appeared.’ I wanted something to balance that idea in Rilke that calls out for change in the midst of darkness.”

Markonish says the nod to Browne, the Velvet Underground and Nico adds a pop culture dimension to the exhiibit. “I just thought the sentiments of the lyrics fit the show perfectly, the way it is really about taking stock and seeing how one can move beyond to the next moment. Also just the phrase ‘These Days’ itself seemed so open yet specific to the moment we find ourselves in globally and much of the work deals with that moment.”

These Days: Elegies for Modern Times at MASS MoCA
Public Exhibition Opening: Saturday, April 4, 2009,  5:30 - 7:30 PM.
Most of the artists in the exhibition will attend the reception. MASS MoCA members are admitted free. Not-yet members may attend for $6 per person.  All should RSVP to Rebecca Rice at or 413 664 4481 x 8112 .
The exhibition runs through September 2010.

At 8 PM, attendees are invited to a performance of Sea of Birds, Sebastienne Mundheim’s dreamlike theatrical work which uses large kinetic sculptures, dancers, live musicians, and video projection to explore memory and history.  Tickets for Sea of Birds are $13 / $10 for students.
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“Get Back” is part of Robert Taplin’s “Everything Real Is Imagined (After Dante)”

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 03/31/09 at 09:18 AM • Permalink