Lost in translation

Digital language and Mexican modernism mark the season
By EVAN J. GARZA  |  March 19, 2009

TINA ON THE AZOTEA, WITH KIMONO: Edward Weston’s portrait of fellow photographer Tina Modotti is at the MFA beginning May 30.

Spring can't come soon enough, since it'll be bringing with it some engaging museum shows in and around Boston. Opening at MIT's List Visual Arts Center in May (sans incomparable former curator Bill Arning, who'll be one month into his new role as director at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston) will be "MATTHEW DAY JACKSON: THE IMMEASURABLE DISTANCE." Jackson, an MIT artist-in-residence, will present work in a variety of media that reflects the research he's done at the institute, with special emphasis on the Apollo 11 moon voyage. Also at the List will be "FROM THE FILM COLLECTION: DUNCAN CAMPBELL'SBERNADETTE," a documentary (showing in the Bakalar Gallery) that examines media representations of historical figures through a portrait of Bernadette Devlin, the Irish Republican activist who was just 21 when she was elected to Parliament (20 Ames St, Cambridge; May 8–July 12).

Photographers and new-media artists concerned with ideas of digital systems and information will create their own visual language for "SYNTAX" at BU's Photographic Resource Center (832 Comm Ave, Boston; March 27–May 10), as part of the 2009 Boston Cyberarts Festival. The Peabody Essex Museum hopes to continue its streak of superb shows with "REVISIONS, INDIAN ARTISTS ENGAGING TRADITIONS," a collaboration with the Harvard Art Museum that will include more than 36 traditional and modern Indian art works (East India Square, Salem; April 4–April 1, 2010).

Mass MoCA will open four shows. "THIS IS KILLING ME" gathers eight young artists whose work exudes both confidence and a visible uneasiness that underscores the anxiety involved in its creation (1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams; May 23–April 15). "GUY BEN-NER: THURSDAY THE 12TH" is a major survey of the video artist's special brand of homemade films (often featuring his kids), in which his personal search for identity and meaning is informed by humor as well as cinematic and literary references ranging from Buster Keaton and François Truffaut to Moby-Dick and Robinson Crusoe (May 23–March 31). "GEORGE COCHRANE: LONG TIME GONE" will present original drawings from the first two chapters of Cochrane's graphic novel of the title, a volume he created with the help of his six-year-old daughter (opening May 23). And "THESE DAYS: ELEGIES FOR MODERN TIMES" (April 4–February 28) is an assortment of installations, photographs, painting, sculpture, and video that seek to make sense of changing times through the poetic/musical trope of elegy. The show includes two works by Young British Artist Sam Taylor-Wood, one of them her iconic time-lapse video in which a dead hare rots before your eyes.

The MFA will head south of the border for two Mexicentric exhibits poised to open just before summer. "VIVA MEXICO! EDWARD WESTON AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES" presents early modernist works by the famous photographer and members of his circle like Tina Modotti and Paul Strand made during his time in Mexico City from 1923 to 1926. The show is paired with "VIDA Y DRAMA: MODERN MEXICAN PRINTS," which brings together some of the biggest names in modern Mexican art, like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Alex Beltrán, and Rufino Tamayo (465 Huntington Ave, Boston; May 30–November 2). "Vida y Drama" will invoke, among other cultural references, images of "calaveras" (iconic decorated skull sculptures). Both shows will close on the Day of the Dead.

Related: Water world, Tall stories, Fall Art Preview: Heavy construction, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bernadette Devlin, Tina Modotti,  More more >
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