A Visit to MASS MoCA (Or: What I Imagine it’s like to do Drugs)


Richard Nonas “The Man in the Empty Space” – MASS MoCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is an incredibly large complex in North Adams, Mass. From the outside it is industrial and impressive – both for its visual qualities and its sheer size. The worn red brick buildings look like a place where one could easily find themselves lost. The inside takes this historic aesthetic and flips it on its head, as the museum contains some of the newest and most exciting contemporary art in the nation. The sense of other-worldliness created by the strange relationship between the outside of the building and the inside is to an extent which I have never experienced in any other context.

Featuring many great artists and thought-provoking installations, this museum is contemporary art at its finest. It is Mecca for the contemporary art buff. During my visit, I enjoyed the extensive Sol LeWitt collection, as well as the Loony-Tunes-meets-Tim-Burton world created by Alex Da Corte’s “Free Roses”. It was an experience that was polarizing when compared against the installation which most captured me, called “The Man in the Empty Space” by Richard Nonas.

My thoughts while viewing – or rather: experiencing – the piece (and after) are as follows:

I am alive among the ruins, walking on the cracked and weathered ground. Around me are constellations that would burn if they were to come into contact with their counterparts in the sky. They are earth-stars. And I am a space woman – wandering between them, basking in their wood-light. Whether I am surrounded by piano keys or railroad tracks or something altogether else, these things on the ground hum with soul music. And among all of these neutrals, my color says: “I am here.”

I come out of the museum buzzing, almost able to feel my eyes dilating, with memories of sound still echoing in my head. I realize that this museum must feel like what it’s like to get high. I am out of breath, and my brain needs to catch up to my body, or my body needs to catch up to my brain, because now they are not aligned.

Out of the beautiful madness, they need to find each other again.


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