Museums

A Museum Takes Art on the Road

by Molly MacFadden on August 29, 2012

Maziar Behrooz's Rapid Deployment Meditation Unit

Maziar Behrooz’s Rapid Deployment Meditation Unit (all photos courtesy Parrish Museum unless otherwise noted)

I chatted with Andrea Grover, curator of programs at the Parrish Museum, about her work on the series, whose structure and curatorial framework made it especially compelling for me. Grover, who brought the Road Show together, described her process as “collaborative,” working closely with the artists involved, all of whom received an honorarium as well as a stipend for materials and logistical support from the museum. In the Parrish Road Show, four artists presented new, site-specific work.

Jameson Ellis's weapons and tools

Jameson Ellis’s bespoke weapons and tools

Jameson Ellis builds fully operational weapons and tools mostly from scratch in his studio, using a milling machine. His aesthetic is meticulously attentive to details. From bomber planes to combat rifles, Ellis’s work is informed by his “youthful enthusiasm for the technology and aesthetic of military objects and industrial design, coupled with the more mature knowledge of their power and ultimate purpose,” he said in a presentation last fall at the Parrish Museum.

A belt by Ellis

A belt by Ellis (click to enlarge)

For the Road Show, Ellis chose to showcase his most recent bespoke designs, including a multi-tool belt buckle and a retractable hunting knife utensil set. The artist said these inventions “work flawlessly, to show that the wearer is forward-thinking yet somewhat old fashioned or old school, actual rather than virtual.” He also built a highly customized display case for the objects, which were on view for one night only at The Bridge, a private Sag Harbor golf course.

Maziar Behrooz is an established architect whose process is guided by simplicity, breaking down complex problems to find inspiration at the core. Behrooz strives for solutions that are specific to the nature of each design. His modified storage container called the Rapid Deployment Meditation Unit (RDMU) was installed outside his award-winning Arc House for the Road Show. The RDMU became a portable retreat for guided meditation, yoga practice, film screenings, even a cello performance. Taking the unit outdoors and experimenting with it (particularly the cello performance) led Behrooz to discover that the RDMU has great acoustics. It “favors deep, bass-y sounds,” said Grover.

Maziar Behrooz in his Rapid Deployment Meditation Unit

Maziar Behrooz inside his RDMU (photo courtesy Andrea Grover)

Alice Hope works with invisible and natural scientific forces such as magnetism and reaction. Hope’s temporary installation for the Road Show, “Under the Radar,” is comprised of thousands of ferrite magnets arranged on an asphalt strip next to a decommissioned radar tower in Camp Hero State Park, Montauk. Hope selected this site for its electromagnetic history, obsolescent military architecture and the bizarre attraction it holds with conspiracy theorists and fans of science fiction. She also decided to forego typical conservation measures and allow visitors to touch the installation. By inviting viewers to interact with it, Hope ensures that the work is always in flux and worth returning to before it’s deinstalled on August 31. (The Road Show took place over the summer, starting in July; this is the only project still on view.)

Alice Hope's "Under the Radar"

Alice Hope’s “Under the Radar” installed at Camp Hero State Park

Jill Musnicki is a fourth-generation resident of Long Island’s East End. She trained as a painter, but took the opportunity offered by the Road Show to realize an idea she’d been toying with for a while. Breaking out of her studio, Musnicki examined the territory between humanity’s built environment and Long Island’s natural forests. She placed five motion-activated surveillance cameras in locations that are usually undocumented or unobserved (such as the perimeter of a transmission tower), emphasizing chance encounters.

Jill Musnicki, still from "what comes around"

Jill Musnicki, still from “what comes around”

The results were a surprise, even to Musnicki, who had anticipated mostly nostalgic scenes such as children playing, since she selected many of the sites from her own adventures growing up in the area. Instead she was rewarded with a glimpse of the secret lives of deer, raccoons, possums, birds and other wildlife, undisturbed by human presence. To create her Road Show project, “what comes around,” she edited over 100,000 images and created large-scale prints, a book and a video, which was screened at the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

Grover’s own interest and background in social practice shines through the series, helping position the projects in unexpected locations and bringing art to an audience that might not see it in a traditional gallery context. She successfully handled the challenge of programming for a seasonal audience of tourists and Hamptonites as well as locals. This collaboration enabled the artists to expand their practices and redefine the communities in which their work operates, true to the museum’s mission of focusing on artists who live and work in Long Island’s East End. By foregrounding the artists’ vision, the Road Show expanded the traditional parameters of what the Parrish Art Museum does. The series title also refers to the museum’s relocation to a new space in November. “It is a way of moving our patronage out of our present building and toward Water Mill and our future,” Grover said.

The Parrish Road Show was organized by the Parrish Art Museum and took place throughout the summer at sites around Long Island’s East End. Alice Hope’s “Under the Radar” is on view at Camp Hero State Park in Montauk, New York, through August 31.

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  • Andrea Grover

    Terrific write-up. A few minor corrections: Alice Hope’s “Under the Radar” installation of 300,000 ferrite magnets arranged on 320 steel plates in morse and binary code for “No” was not intended to be touched; it was cordoned off by a 6′ chain link fence that resonated with the “No Trespassing” signs of the former military site. And Jill Musnicki’s surveillance cameras were placed mostly in hard-to-access, untraveled areas of the Hamptons, so she wasn’t anticipating that she would capture images of children playing, but more likely trespassers and the fringe activities of teenagers.

  • http://twitter.com/mollymacfadden Molly MacFadden

    See more photos from the series on Flickr, via the Parrish Art Museum: http://www.flickr.com/photos/parrishart/sets/72157630790753294/

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