Place as Idea

October 9, 2010 - February 20, 2011

David Maisel, Terminal Mirage #215-9-4, 2003, Chromogenic print, Gift of Edward Osowski in honor of the photographer and the Eliza S. Paine Fund, 2005.102

Place as Idea explores the idea of place as a vehicle for visualizing time, displacement, memory, and fantasy in works by an international roster of contemporary artists.

Anchoring the show conceptually and chronologically is Rundown, a video of three 1969 projects by Robert Smithson, each of which involved the pouring of viscous substances: glue, concrete, and asphalt. Voiceover by the artist explains some of his concerns specific to these works, as well as elucidates Smithson's still-influential ideas about entropy, geologic time, and the positioning of the artwork in the land as opposed to the gallery. In her 2008 single-channel video, The Vanishing, Julia Hechtman takes us into the land to witness the digital disappearance of a lone tree in a barren landscape and leaves us to reconcile an emotionally-charged absence and ghostly afterimage. Other artists, including Yun-Fei Ji, David Maisel, Paul Noble, Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz, and Rachel Whiteread consider ideas of place as sites of human intervention into the landscape, drawing our attention to acts of fantasy and folly, erection and erasure, ruin and reclamation.

Uta Barth, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Abelardo Morell expand our expectations of the photograph as a record of architectural experience. Cinematic time and place are re-conceptualized by John Baldessari, Fiona Banner, and Hiroshi Sugimoto as stationary imagery or text. Martin Kippenberger's collaborative project, created in 1991 under the conceptual umbrella of the “The William Holden Company,” takes the form of a series of postcards (a universal conceptualization of place) mailed from various locations along a trek in Africa, signifying then and now connections and distances between individuals, geographies, economies, and cultures.

This exhibition has been supported by the Don and Mary Melville Contemporary Art Fund and Worcester Magazine.


Artist Talk: Julia Hechtman
Sunday, November 14, 2pm
Free with Museum admission
Hechtman discusses her recent work in video and photography.

Artist Talk: Abelardo Morell
Sunday, January 9, 2pm
Free with Museum admission
Morell speaks about his photography, focusing on his work with the camera obscura.

Select Images from the Exhibition