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Fantastic!

  • Exhibition

  • March 2003 - April 2004
  • Galleries

In the fantastic, things could go either way. Poised between the possible and impossible, the fantastic is a destabilizing pause in the plausible, a moment for our utopian dreams and dystopian fears to acquire form.

Fantastic featured two major bodies of work by Gregory Crewdson, Twilight and Hover, and new works by Miguel Calder, Nils Norman, Alicia Framis, and Temporary Services and Angelo. This imagery, populated by alien lights, levitating hippies, and utopian schemes, teeter in the fantastic moment, beguiling us to linger there with them on the precipitous cusp of possibility. Philosopher Walter Benjamin believed that meaningful social transformation required these disorienting moments just beyond the real: In his view, the fantastic is a powerful tool for preconceiving — and reordering — our world.

Since the early 19th century, MASS MoCA’s region — from Maine to New York — has sheltered utopian experiments with fantastic overtones. Fantastic thus began with the Threshold of Wonder, a small cabinet of curiosities culled from local history that offers a preamble to the exhibition itself. Whether escaping from reality or creating a new one, the enterprising visionaries, utopians, and philosophers at the heart of this region, utopian experiments — from Brook Farm to the Shakers — proved Benjamin’s point: the fantastic, in art and life, is the springboard to utopia.

Miguel Calderon, Quantum Physics, 2003

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