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Yankee Remix


  • Archive, Archive Exhibitions, Exhibition

  • May 24, 2003 - April 30, 2004
  • Galleries

Yankee Remix began with a simple premise: that artists would use the collection of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) to make new works of art for MASS MoCA. SPNEA’s collection encompasses domestic artifacts (such as furniture, paintings, and kitchenware), archival material (photographs, letters, architects’ drawings), and houses (including the modernist Gropius House, the 17th-century Coffin House, and Beauport, a Victorian fantasy).

The locality of the collection is what binded these elements together: New Englandness provided the “Yankee” in Yankee Remix. The “remixing” was engineered by nine artists — Rina Banerjee, Huang Yong Ping, Manfred Pernice, Annette Messager, Ann Hamilton, Zoe Leonard, Martin Kersels, Lorna Simpson, and Frano Violich — whose bodies of work, though they differed greatly from each other, often alluded to historic topics or incorporated pre-existing, or “readymade,” objects. The artists, from five different countries and working in as many different media, made works that ranged from poignant to humorous for the exhibition. Some tackled specific historic people and events, such as Crispus Attucks and the Battle of Bunker Hill; others worked more generally, referring obliquely to the China trade, the enduring uncanniness of the home, and the idiosyncratic business of historic preservation itself.

Although MASS MoCA had commissioned new works of art before, this was the first time that an entire exhibition had been created from newly commissioned work. Despite the variety in these nine works, several factors unified them all: the origin in SPNEA’s rich, geographically targeted collection, the production during the same twelve-month period (a tumultuous one in U.S. politics), and the consideration of MASS MoCA’s particular spaces.

Rina Banerjee, Contagious Spaces, Preserving Pink Eye, 2003