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I Am Searching for Field Character

  • Exhibition

  • May 26, 2011 - September 30, 2011
  • MASS MoCA

Bureau for Open Culture is a nomadic institution for the contemporary arts operated by James Voorhies. It works to re-imagine the art exhibition as a new kind of learning site.

Set within a previously unused industrial building on the grounds of MASS MoCA, Bureau for Open Culture presented I Am Searching for Field Character, a series of public conversations, performances, installations, workshops, and a beer garden with a slew of artists, writers, designers, and thinkers visiting North Adams, Massachusetts, over the course of the summer.

Organized in association with the MASS MoCA exhibition The Workers, I Am Searching for Field Character explored the economic and social character of the cultural laborer from artists and writers to beekeepers and distillers who collectively contribute to the lifestyle of a region. It examined this workforce within the context of a postindustrial city that has transformed economically from a site of major manufacturing industry to a locus for culture and experience. That examination conflated and purposely obscured notions of labor and touristic service industries, all transpiring inside architecture built originally for the production of goods and materials. Part exhibition, part performance, part studio, part unexpected, I Am Searching for Field Character located and shaped a portrait of the contemporary cultural worker with an emphasis on his/her precarious economic existence.

The title I Am Searching for Field Character is taken from a 1973 essay by the German artist Joseph Beuys. In the essay he expresses a desire to expand the limits of art, turn theory into action and encourage widespread participation in the knowledge-producing sphere. He calls for the reconsideration of what art is and a leveling of its hierarchies, ultimately deploying it to generate discourse about present moments and imagined futures.

Beer Garden
May 26 – September 9
Thursdays and Fridays, 5 – 10pm
Nestled along the Hoosic River, the Beer Garden served local beer and functioned as a site for community while providing income to fund the presentation of programming.

Work Site
May 28 – September 30
Work Site was a space where “freelancers” who usually work at home could bring their laptops, sketchpads, and books to work periodically and engage socially.

Elegantly Wasted: A Fashion-Forward Ecosystem For The Hoosic River
May 28 – June 30
With this month-long performance, Sarah Cowles asked North Adams to confront its concrete-contained Hoosic River, making it visible where it is largely ignored and appreciating it for what it is now.

Bartleby’s Pen & Night Market by Red76
June 17 – September 23
Bartleby’s Pen was a series of slide lectures in the Beer Garden where visiting artists served up their ideas alongside beverages. Night Market sold goods from culture-makers near and afar, considering small-scale market products as equal forms of production.

On Symptoms of Cultural Industry
July 17 – July 31
Through original research interviews with former employees of Sprague Electric, this work manifested as an installation of performance, photography, and video which formed an intimate portrait of a city in transition.

Check out a great profile of the happenings at Bureau for Open Culture by clicking here!

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