MASS MoCAOn our way back from the MathWorks summer outing, we stopped at MASS MoCA, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum opened in a renovated mill complex in 1999. Thanks to its industrial past, it has some gigantic, unobstructed rooms. It doesn’t have a permanent collection, so its content is always changing. Some of the current exhibitions are great. I particularly liked Robert Wilson’s 14 Stations and Jarvis Rockwell’s Maya.

14 StationsIn 14 Stations, you walk among tiny New England style cottages. Each cottage has a single window with a number above it. The number corresponds to one of the traditional Catholic Stations of the Cross, i.e. “Jesus is condemned to Death”, “Jesus bears His Cross”, “Jesus falls the First time Beneath the Cross”, etc.

WolvesEach window exposes a tableaux illustrating the station, but not with the traditional Christian imagery. For example, “Jesus Dies” contains a pack of blind, blood-red wolves. Many of them also emanate strange sounds to further involve the viewer. The overall effect is quite powerful.

MayaMaya was just plain fun. The main room holds a gigantic temple covered in 10,000 action figures. Now one Star Trek action figure doesn’t say much artistically. “What exactly a phalanx of Talosians, a cluster of Batmans and 88 Burt Reynolds say about our world today is for the viewer to decide.”

Heads Listen to the Cabbage Patch KidThe other section of this exhibit contains about a dozen dioramas. Each takes familiar action figures and puts them in an unusual situation. For example, a Cabbage Patch Kid appears to be preaching a sermon to a room full of decapitated heads while Yoda watches over from the back of the room. I caught myself laughing out loud a few times.