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Weekly Update – ICA, LLG and collective energy


This week’s Weekly has my review of the Locally Localized Gravity show at ICA. Below’s the copy with pictures. Here’s Libby’s post and my post with links to other picture sites.

Give Me Fever
The ICA’s buzzed-up show celebrates collective energy.

Looking and listening
Opening night. Participant deeply engaged with the interactive installation by, I believe, Red 76, at the opening of ICA’s Locally Localized Gravity.

The Institute of Contemporary Art‘s winter shows opened in an atmosphere of exuberance, noise and energy. Fueled by the preshow buzz about “Locally Localized Gravity”—a show celebrating four prominent local collectives—more than a thousand people jammed the barn to wander around in Space 1026′s “Ewok Village,” dance on Black Floor‘s moveable stage and participate in the DIY art stations of Basekamp, LURE, LTTR, Red76, Matt Bakkom and Fritz Haeg.

Basekamp table
Opening night. Basekamp’s installation was hopping with people making posters and filling out questionaires at the Plausible Worlds station.

The opening didn’t break attendance records. The ICA’s marketing manager Jill Katz says “Wall Power” (an exploration of mural art) and a solo show by Lisa Yuskavage had more warm bodies at their receptions in 2000. But the sense of camaraderie and an almost feverish spirit created a giddiness and lift-off most art openings can’t even envision.

Black Floor and Japanther
Black Floor and Japanther posing before the opening.

“LLG” involves eight artists or artist groups who’ve invited other artists to join them, for a grand total of more than 100 participants. Because these artists are big on group activities, 75 events are scheduled over the course of the 10-week show, from sing-alongs and discussions to movie and game nights.

Participant studying material at LTTR’s table.

Collectives are hangouts, and this show mirrors that. When people are just hanging out, the atmosphere can be electric with ideas, energy and fun. Without the bodies, there’s no juice.

Reading in the tent
Reading inside the little blue tent of Fritz Haeg’s.

On a Wednesday afternoon when I returned for a second look and had the place pretty much to myself, the poster tables, video viewing stations, pup tent for reading and hay bales in the greenhouse seemed more like stage sets than art installations.

Hand printed posters, detail, from the highly-worked, over-the-top-decorated installation by Space 1026.

With one exception: Space 1026’s fantasy “Ewok Village.” Unlike the other installations which are more tabula rasa for interactivity than art installations of an aesthetic nature, the village is complete as a piece of visual art requiring nothing but a viewer’s imagination to activate it.

Space 1026’s Ewok Village

The installation is like a 3-D explosion of an Indian miniature painting with turrets and trees and lovely patterning, brilliant color and mystery cubby holes everywhere. As the embodiment of the collective’s playful spirit, there’s something manic, communicative and generous. At its core Space 1026 has always been about making great “stuff” as well as moving collectively forward. Their interactivity with each other on the front-end (imagine the 30 members and eight interns working together feverishly) produced a great immersion for the viewer. Nothing else is required.

LURE installation
Video projection by Xana in Lure’s Sweet Green Hangout

Aaron Igler’s LURE projects have always kept aesthetics in mind, and here the outdoor evening video screenings are the draw. Black Floor too has a history of aesthetically driven art production and is showcasing art on its movable stage.

Black Floor’s one day show of Emily Glaubinger’s works.
Detail, posters on the wall at Basekamp’s Plausible Worlds corner of the show

Basekamp’s “Plausible Worlds” project best embodies the approach that’s less aesthetic-driven and more intellectually focused. “Plausible Worlds” is a big year-long group discussion about defining ways of art-making outside the normal system. At ICA the international project is represented by picnic tables, poster-making materials, a questionnaire and a series of discussion and game nights that bring people together to talk.

Coffee pot on the picnic table at Basekamp’s station. A real world fuel for the plausible world’s project.

Talk, fun and shared orientation to the world are the glue that holds these collectives together. Groups like these become their own power bases, and as a paradigm for the future they look pretty robust.

“Locally Localized Gravity”
Through March 25. $3-$6. Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St. 215.898.5911