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SuttonBeresCuller Big Top Grand Stand


  • Exhibition

  • June 24, 2015 - November 8, 2015
  • Courtyard A

Dazzling sounds, sights, and smells always surround the vast bright and colorful structures of a festival or circus. Also ubiquitous are the concession stands and mobile exhibits that make up much of this celebratory landscape. Vying for attention among the crowds, these transitory structures rely on brilliant lighting, color, and height to stand out and entice.

In response to the temporary environments common to fairs, festivals, and circuses, Seattle-based collective SuttonBeresCuller created a large migratory outdoor sculpture entitled Big Top Grand Stand. This monument comments upon the aesthetics of its environment. Atop a 16′ flatbed trailer, four unique structures are neatly nested within each other and telescope skyward, extending the midway experience and creating a stacked sculpture in the lineage of Brancusi’s Endless Column. Adorned with flashing lights, vibrant flags, and reflective surfaces, this flamboyant homage has turned the concession stand into pure sculptural form.

Big Top Grand Stand was originally commissioned by Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, a dusk-to-dawn festival that takes place throughout the city of Toronto and attracts more than one million visitors to see its hundreds of projects, events, and exhibitions. For the 2014 edition of the festival, MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish put together the project The Night Circus. The exhibition of ten artists took as its inspiration the 2001 book The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. In the novel, Morgenstern describes a curious event, a night circus that opens at dusk and closes at dawn. This is not your average circus with only clowns and tightrope-walkers; instead it is an epic magical contest — turning an ordinary circus into a true spectacle of magic and wits. Big Top Grand Stand became a perfect beacon for The Night Circus.

MASS MoCA was thrilled to bring this project to our campus on June 26, 2015, to kick off Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival. The piece was located in the Museum’s Courtyard A / front parking lot, serving as a perfect entryway to MASS MoCA.

SuttonBeresCuller is a Seattle-based trio of artists who have worked collaboratively since 2000. Together they are known for a humorous, provocative take on public art designed to engage viewers in unconventional ways both within and without traditional gallery spaces. With a focus on the spectacular transformation of everyday objects, their projects range from interactive sculptures such as mobile parks, a performance that involves an unsuspecting audience, and site-specific installations that invite participation when least expected.

SuttonBeresCuller, Big Top Grand Stand, 2014
Photo by W.S. Melnick