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Mario Russo’s passion and inspiration extend far beyond hair. Terri Stanley takes a walk through some of Mario’s favorite exhibits at the ICA.

When the StarsWHEN THE STARS BEGIN TO FALL: IMAGINATION AND THE AMERICAN SOUTH
Marginalized and “outsider” artists dominate the 35 talents represented in this showcase of photography, paintings, and sculpture produced mainly between the 1960s and today — from people of faith to people in prison. But each unique piece is a brush stroke in a larger depiction of the sultry fable that is America’s Deep South. And if some of them happen to involve eerie photographs of semi-humanoid creatures in kitschy wood-paneled dens — well then, color this true blue Yankee heart intrigued.

WHERE: The Institute of Contemporary Art
WHEN: February 4 — May 10

SONIC ARBORETUM

SonicArboretumNewsflash: your hobby is boring. Because with all due respect, it probably doesn’t compare to the long, arduous hours that sculptor Ian Schneller put into this project, an installation of over 30 colorful horn speakers he made from strange odds and ends like dryer lint and baking soda. What do they play? Why, composer Andrew Bird’s 50-minute whistle- and violin-driven composition “Echolocations,” originally recorded in a canyon to capture unique reverberations. Sorry, but your decoupage project pales in comparison.

WHERE: The Institute of Contemporary Art

WHEN: February 4 — May 10

 

RENÉE FLEMING

Renée_Fleming_-_Poèmes_2_cropped_-_credit_Andrew_Eccles,_Decca

Pianist Olga Kern joins the famed soprano for this Celebrity Series performance. Fleming’s powerhouse vocals will be front and center for a recital tour that includes operatic arias alongside favorite classics from the Great American Songbook. We’re crossing our fingers for a few selections from “Dark Hope,” the diva’s genre-defying album that offered sultry, jazz-inflected covers of songs as disparate as Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.”

WHERE: Symphony Hall

WHEN: February 8

 

GREEN PORNO, LIVE ON STAGE

GreenPorno - Credit-Mario del Curto

Mercifully, this has nothing to do with a new sustainability campaign from Kim Kardashian. (Exhale, everyone.) Rather, it’s a one-woman show from Isabella Rossellini, based on a series of short films that the actress-model created for the Sundance Channel. Armed with an arsenal of whimsical props and cheeky costumes, Rossellini offers a zoology class on the bizarre mating rituals of insects and marine life, sort of like “Sesame Street” for the kinky set. Sex-based provocation is nothing new to Rossellini, who made a curious cameo in Madonna’s infamous 1992 coffee table book, “Sex,” and this uproarious, oddity-filled evening sounds like the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise for irreverent lovebirds.

greenporno - Credit-Mario del Curto

WHERE: Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre

WHEN: February 13 — 15

The twisting, melting, drooping and writhing of Eva Hesse’s work has always enraptured me.  Eva Hesse had merely one solo show during her lifetime, yet since her untimely death at just 34 years old has had dozens of posthumous solo exhibitions worldwide.  She was a key player in the post-minimal art movement of the 60s, making large-scale works that oozed a strange and rather contemporary-feeling eroticism due to organic shapes and a frequent use of materials such as latex, fiberglass, and plastics.  Due to the materials employed in her sculptures, Hesse’s work is notorious for deteriorating, creating problems for art conservationists and making it difficult to have traveling shows of her work.

That’s why we are inordinately lucky to have available to us an exhibition of Hesse’s work titled Studioworks, which opened just yesterday at the Institute of Contemporary Art.  This clever show of smaller work is the closest one could come to understanding the inner workings of this lady’s mind.  Hesse made many modest-sized prototypes in her studio that she would frequently rearrange and alter…imagine a very large and three-dimensional sketchbook.   These “test works,” as they became known, had a variable nature and were essential in helping Hesse work out important ideas for larger and more ambitious pieces.

Drifting through this exhibition is akin to combing a barren alien beach after the result of a colossal storm.  Delicate cheesecloth vessels, curvaceous half spheres affixed to wooden planks, draping and sensual translucent veils—all of the above have an organic and undulating relationship to the body, personal yet detached—an acknowledgement of self and non-self.  Rubber and latex undulate and dance, and we can almost see each of these sculptures suspended in Hesse’s mind, a Miró painting of sorts, where abstract forms passively battle for precedence.

We must thank Hesse scholar and original curator of this show, Briony Fer, for seeing the potential in this group of small works, because for an extended period of time they existed in an interstice between being labeled as art/not art. He made the decision to rename the group of works Studioworks, so that people were not constantly thinking of them as tests, experiments, or even games.  These are not games.  While there is an element of playfulness in much of Hesse’s work, Studioworks stand on their own as a show, and are displayed together on tables, trying to emulate Hesse’s studio space – where she would arrange and rearrange these wonderful sculptures.

The show is on until October 10th, 2011, so make sure to go at least twice.

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