Visual Arts Review: Revival-Materials and Monumental Shapes

Chloe Pinjon

This exhibition is impressive in that it depicts the connection between materials and labor and creates beauty from unconventional shapes.

Revival: Materials and monument shapes in Boston’s ICA basin until September 4.

Joe Wardwell, “Gotta Go to Work, Gotta Go to Work, Gotta Get a Job”, 2022. Acrylic on the wall, variable dimensions. Materials and Monumental Form, Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston, 2022 installation view. Photo: Charles Mayer.

I arrived at the ICA basin by boat. It’s a sunny afternoon. The choppy ride across Boston Harbor feels like a sharp departure from the clean and sophisticated look of ICA’s main location, which I’m leaving far away. The boats are open and surrounded by wind, sea splashes and the oncoming docks of East Boston. Ride a boat to the East Boston basin, leaving a sense of the abstract space created by the gallery and creating a connection to the physical world. (It’s convenient to board a boat because it’s a car or public transport distance from the location of ICA’s seaport.) Still, traveling through Boston Harbor, which is piled up parallel to East Boston’s fishing boats, is a natural and regional area. Serves as part of the aesthetic experience of the ICA Basin, which is a connection to the vibrant community of Boston Harbor.

Revival: Materials and monumental shapes Take advantage of production and dependence themes. Nothing is made of thin air, and you don’t have to work with physical hands. The materials used to create objects are reused, layered, and recycled. In the process, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine ownership and accreditation. The basin show will take a critical look at these production layers. The work here is made up of reused material, from the taillights of the recovered car to the lyrics of the protest song. The concept of the show is that the artist credits undervalued labor by creating new forms from the old. In the past, the East Boston basin was a copper pipe and sheet metal manufacturing plant. Since the building was reused for ICA in 2018, the structure itself dramatically expresses the idea of ​​diverting materials and allowing the work of former workers.

When you enter the building, you will find an inscription on a large white placard. “The ICA basin was born out of our efforts to connect contemporary art and the community on both sides of Boston Harbor.” Behind the sign, you can see the raw stone walls of the building and the cement floor. The group exhibition will feature six international artists who have created the same number of large installations. The art is surrounded by a vast negative space of structure, which makes your initial vision even more powerful. From the front door, you will only see the first two installations. There are five collage shimmering black walls mounted on a white frame by Evony G. Patterson. At first glance, it depicts a rich wild garden in vibrant colors, but if you look closely, you can see three women who were overwhelmed by their growth. To create something, you need to destroy something. This seems to be an ambiguous message here. People are swallowed in the garden, including the fruits of their labor. Collage nods towards colonial agricultural exploitation. Those who cultivate the earth are lost and forgotten when the harvest begins. Just beyond Patterson’s collage, El Anastuy’s “Area B” sparkles. With aluminum and copper engraving, the wave-like shape creates the illusion of fluidity and liquid movement. Mainly metallic makeup. The liquidity of the installation symbolizes the changeability of maps, ownership and space.

Karin Olivier, Fortress, 2018-2022. Brick, used clothing, steel, approx. 144 x 240 x 30 inches (365.8 x 609.6 x 76.2 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakda Gallery, New York / Los Angeles. Installation View, Revival: Materials and Monumental Form, Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston, 2022. Photo: Charles Mayer

The rest of the exhibits meander like a maze. The space in the basin with echoes is constant while walking around temporary walls and incorporating towering installations. Madeline Hollander uses scrapped cars to create an almost lyrical display of flashing headlights and abandoned tailgates. The wall of Ibrahim Mahama’s box and abandoned suitcase is next to the wall of Catherine Oliver’s abandoned clothing, using textiles instead of traditional mortar. Finally, there’s Joe Wardwall’s Site-Specific Commission. Recommendations go to work, recommendations go to work, recommendations get jobs.. Outlined on a glass wall overlooking the harbor and the East Boston horizon, this work protests the song lyrics and personal remorse from the East Boston community against the East Boston landscape. It is surrounded by a metal structure whose lines are parallel to the architecture of the basin.

This exhibition is impressive in that it depicts the connection between materials and labor and creates beauty from unconventional shapes. But in contrast to other recent ICA exhibitions, such as the life of photographer Deana Lawson and a thorough investigation of her work, the message is unfortunately transparent. Six artists were tasked with creating works that treated the products of labor as abstractions, and they were successful. The social interest of these raw, physical but beautiful works is their apparent starting and ending points. Ironically, the ICA basin itself is a monumental example of material conversion and renewal, and labor migration, and states as much as a show on this subject.


Chloe Pinjon I recently graduated from Boston University, where I studied film and journalism.She writes regularly for the features and arts section of the Boston University Independent Student Newspaper. HeightsAlso wrote in the Culture section of, and Lithium magazine.. She is currently a creative development intern at Foundation Films.

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