- May 24, 2012 - February 3, 2013
Titled after Italo Calvino’s beloved book—which imagines Marco Polo’s vivid descriptions of numerous cities of a fading empire to Kublai Khan—the exhibition featured the works of ten diverse artists who re-imagine urban landscapes both familiar and fantastical. Like Marco Polo’s poetic imagery, which leaves the reader wondering if the cities he describes are real or perhaps all different versions of his own Venetian home, the works in the show explored how our perceptions of place are shaped by personal influences as diverse as memory, desire, and loss, as well as by cultural forces such as history and the media.
The featured works ranged from the representational to the abstract, reminding us that any city is as much an idea or psychological and emotional experience as an assemblage of asphalt, brick, steel, and glass. The artists translated various cities—or the impressions that they conjure—in charcoal, paint, wallpaper, plaster, soap, and even light and sound, reminding us of the role all the senses play in knowing or remembering place.
The architect Aldo Rossi wrote, “In order to be significant, architecture must be forgotten, or must present only an image for reverence which subsequently becomes confounded with memories.” If the city keeps our collective memory, as Rossi wrote, it is subject to the same deviations and mutations of time and, in fact, becomes a fragmented web of reflections of the original and perhaps, ultimately, something more. Invisible Cities presented a selection of artists’ interpretations of the built environment and its reflection in our emotional, psychological, and intellectual lives while musing on the city’s extended life in the imagination and in our dreams, conjuring up new images of both our past and future.
Invisible Cities included works by Lee Bul, Carlos Garaicoa, Sopheap Pich, and Emeka Ogboh, major new commissions by Diana Al-Hadid, Francesco Simeti, and Miha Švtrukelj, and works by local artists Kim Faler and Mary Lum.
This project has been supported by a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Artists’ Resource Trust and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Sopheap Pich, Compound, 2011
Bamboo, rattan, plywood, metal wire