|Lee Boroson at MassMOCA, 2014|
|Lee Boroson, 2014|
|Lee Boroson, 2014|
Now, having written that, I'll confess to having found the following yesterday when I finally looked at the MassMOCA prose about this show. Happily, this was not posted on any walls; the Museum kept interpretation far from any exhibition, allowing visitors like me to draw our own conclusions.
Officially, though, "viewers will enter Deep Current, a referential ode to Niagara Falls, the title of which serves as a subtle pun on the word “current,” referencing both water and electricity. What fascinates Boroson is the fact that Niagara Falls is considered a sublime example of nature’s grandeur despite it being a highly engineered and carefully controlled version of nature." If the title, Deep Current, was posted, I missed it. (It wouldn't be the first time, if so.)
I see nothing that would lead the viewer to draw as necessary the conclusion that this work is about Niagara Falls. I do like the idea of Niagara Falls surrounded by spray, though I have to think about the silence, and about the stillness at the center, where light seems to be the main event. From the exterior, the installation moves in a downward direction; from inside, it leads the eye up. It's an intriguing work but confirms my conviction that artists should refrain from telling us what their work is "about." It may be about that, but that's one of a multitude of fascinating possibilities.
|Lee Boroson, Uplift, 2014 at Mass MOCA|
Another of Boroson's installations that I loved (before or despite title or notes) is a medium-sized, low-ceilinged room that is lit from above and filled with gray, inflated plastic bubbles. These are conjoined in a manner that makes them look like rows of trees in an orchard or, better yet, like grapevines in an arbor, the leaves and fruits forming a shady canopy above us. So I see it, at least. The same MassMOCA notes that surprised me before suggest this about this piece titled Uplift. "Uplift comprises an array of inflatable fabric forms molded into stalactites to evoke the architecture of the underworld, providing room for contemplation in a dark, primordial chamber." Well, okay. That's a reasonable interpretation too?
|Lee Boroson, 2014|
Visually, though, the materials are less important than what they do to the room and to the bodies of the viewers. The canopy they form is low enough that at 5'7" I had to stoop not to hit my head against the forms. I'm sure that I would have disrupted nothing had I touched them, but I was body-conscious and careful about my own position, fearful about a fragility they clearly did not possess. However amusing the installation was at one level, it created tension in me.
While the forms are lined up in regular rows, as trees in an orchard, or people in military formation, the lighting casts emphatic shadows. The shadows are as amazing in their velvety, flat, black sharpness as their originals are in eccentric, sinuous three dimensions.
|Lee Boroson, Uplift, 2014|
I hadn't seen Lee Boroson before, but I'll certainly go out of my way to see him again. I don't know "who he is" any more than I know any artist whose work I see for the first time. Call it a persona that one meets through a person's art, or call it the essence of the person him- or herself. Whoever it is that I perceive through this work, I like. There's a combination of the cerebral, sensual and humorous that I find inviting—a practicality and idealism mixed with levity in a rare way.
I hope that my interpretations of Boroson's work carry no more weight than the official versions on MassMOCA's site, because this work is splendid for being quite open; it actually gives few explicit clues. I see fairy tales; authoritative Boroson sees Niagara Falls. An underworld may be a shady, fruitful arbor. Now that is interesting art, something to note and follow up on.