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Jane Philbrick The Expanded Field

  • Exhibition

  • May 11, 2012 - November 4, 2012

Jane Philbrick’s industrial garden site, The Expanded Field, took its name from the seminal 1979 essay, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” in which Rosalind Krauss wrote of sculpture conceived and shaped as part of the natural and built environment, rather than as a discrete “gallery” object.

Philbrick’s project unfolded in multiple parts. For The Asphalt Meadow, Philbrick exploited pre-existing cracks and failing patches in the disintegrating hardscape, creating furrows and hollows for native wildflowers and grasses. The Asphalt Meadow gradually transformed MASS MoCA’s back-access “West Main” utility road and lots into a green space. Time seemed to fast-forward, anticipating a next generation in which the pastoral shares terrain with the postindustrial.

Within The Asphalt Meadow were The Rounds, constructed of rammed earth and dry-stack stone. Rammed earth is a centuries-old “green” building technique similar to adobe but formed by high-pressure compaction rather than sundried mud. With self-contained wildflower gardens, and nearby apple trees to provide shade, The Rounds created new places to sit, relax, and picnic.

Body Pockets, planted with moss and elfin thyme, were carved into the diagonal slope of the tiered stone wall (the remnant foundation of a razed building), re-working this industrial cul-de-sac into a gathering and performative space.

At the far end of the site is the Acoustic Path, in which speakers played the pentatonic scales recorded in collaboration with the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and voice compositions written and recorded by Philbrick. In addition, a swing set and mural engaged the shapes and sounds of the overpass above.

Acoustic Path was recorded by Jane Philbrick and Roomful of Teeth artistic director Brad Wells and composer Caroline Shaw, and singers Estelí­ Gomez, Martha Cluver, Caroline Shaw, Virginia Warnken, Eric Dudley, Avery Griffin, Dashon Burton, and Cameron Beauchamp. Sound engineer: Bob Bielecki

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