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Sue Bush
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"Training Ground For Democracy" Canceled At MASS MoCA

06:28AM / Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MASS MoCA Canceled a "Training Ground In Democracy" exhbit and is replacing it with a new May 26 "Made At MASS MoCA" exhibition.
North Adams- Officials of the Massachsuetts Museum of Contemporary Art announced today that it has cancelled the presentation of "Training Ground for Democracy," a large-scale installation planned with Swiss artist Christoph Büchel.

Although the exhibit has not been completed, the cancellation enables MASS MoCA to present "Made at MASS MoCA," a documentary project exploring the issues raised in the course of complex collaborative projects between artists and institutions. The new exhibition will open on Saturday, May 26, 2007.

"We put great effort into the Training Ground for Democracy installation, doubling our project budget and increasing the available time for installation by a factor of three. In addition we’ve made available to Mr. Büchel significant additional funding to return and complete the work," said MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson. "Despite this, Mr. Büchel has so far not returned to North Adams to finish the work. With Made at MASS MoCA we are using this and our other experiences working with artists such as Gregory Crewdson, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ann Hamilton, Tim Hawkinson, Matthew Ritchie, and Robert Wilson -- to name a few -- to provide our audience with thought-provoking insights into the complexities of the art-making process."

MASS MoCA’s mission is to serve as a laboratory for art-making, and the institution has worked closely with artists to produce over 60 major works of visual art and over 40 works of performing art since the launch of its earliest projects in 1996. As a core part of its mission MASS MoCA routinely opens its spaces to the public as “galleries-turned-workshops” during the fabrication period.

To determine whether MASS MoCA can make the abandoned materials and partial constructions of Training Ground for Democracy accessible to museum visitors as an open back lot workshop, the institution is seeking a declaratory ruling in the United States District Court, Springfield, Massachusetts. As part of the proceedings, Büchel will have the opportunity to present his perspective.

"We believe that the raw materials and partially completed scenarios speak for themselves, providing important insight into the intricacies of creating art in our day and time," added Thompson. "We have asked the court to affirm our right to present these materials -- clearly labeled as unfinished -- to the public, through a declaratory ruling. If Mr. Büchel responds in a timely fashion, we are confident the court will resolve the matter quickly."

Made at MASS MoCA

Made at MASS MoCA will examine some of the many ways in which MASS MoCA has worked with a wide range of visual and performing artists over more than a decade. In addition to serving as a presenter — the conventional role of museums — MASS MoCA is also a fabricator of large-scale works, a host for extended artist residencies, and a collaborator and co-producer. The exhibition looks at the implications of those differing roles and relationships and how they are relevant to the making and distribution of art today.

"Made at MASS MoCA will give our visitors insight into how major works of art take shape and will convey what we mean when we say that MASS MoCA is an open platform for research and development in the arts," said Thompson. "When you are committed to experimenting on a large scale, the results can be unexpected. Not everything works."

Due to the space constraints imposed by the materials assembled for Training Ground for Democracy, the exhibition Made at MASS MoCA is being presented in MASS MoCA’s only remaining available gallery space. To enter Made at MASS MoCA, visitors will pass through the Building 5 gallery housing the materials and unfinished fabrications that were to have comprised elements of Training Ground for Democracy. Reasonable steps have been taken to control and restrict the view of these materials, pending a court ruling which is being sought by MASS MoCA.

Training Ground for Democracy

If the court allows the view-restricting measures to be removed, the materials assembled for Training Ground for Democracy would become available for viewing. In that case, the public could see the large quantity of materials and constructed scenarios gathered and placed in MASS MoCA’s football-field-size Building 5 Gallery, including a two-story Cape Cod-style house, a movie theater, cinder block walls, numerous sea containers, a mobile home, multiple vehicles, and thousands of found objects.

For a description of Mr. Büchel’s work, refer to the Hauser & Wirth web site at http://www.ghw.ch/index.php .

MASS MoCA

With a track record spanning eleven years and including the fabrication of more than 60 new visual arts works, MASS MoCA has a history of monumental collaboratives with some of the world’s leading living artists. Coupled with the more than 40 works of performing arts created, rehearsed, or technically enhanced through residency programs, MASS MoCA is one of the nation’s most fertile sites for nurturing and supporting new art in all media.

MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA juxtaposes a beautifully restored icon of the American industrial past with some of the liveliest, most evocative—and provocative—art being made today. Emphasizing art that charts new territory, art that ignores traditional boundaries between the performing and visual arts, and installations that are vast in scale, MASS MoCA has received some of the nation's most coveted architectural and historic preservation honors. MASS MoCA presents an unusually varied program, including rollicking dance parties and "silent film/live music" series, and has made a tremendous contribution to the cultural landscape of New England and the United States.

Through June 30, MASS MoCA’s galleries are open from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. closed Tuesdays. From July 1 through Labor Day gallery hours are 10am- 6pm every day. For additional information call 413 662 2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.
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