East Lansing, MI
For the inaugural exhibition of the Field Station series, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (MSU Broad) presents the work of Alicja Kwade (Polish, b. 1979), setting the tone for the series as a space for research, experimentation, and unexpected encounters. Kwade is interested in metaphysics and systems of measurement—the construction of reality, the tension between matter and antimatter, perceptions of truth—all of which give shape and structure to our understanding of and place in the universe. Kwade explains, “My interests focus on all the paths that lead us toward the question of why the world is just the way it is. This is the oldest question in philosophy: Why does the world exist? Why does the Earth turn? What are atoms? These are the questions that I work on.”
The works assembled here move from such grandiose questions around time, reality, and perception to granular investigations of materiality and its potential for metaphor and symbolism. Importantly, though, the power of these works hinges on the presence of their viewers. In the gallery, the movement of the viewer through the space becomes a measure of time—like the hand of a watch, ticking away. But here, the measure of time is not predetermined; rather, it is manifested by visitors in their experience of the works. Ultimately, Kwade is a storyteller, and it remains up to the viewer to determine where the real ends and the fictional begins in the multiple narratives featured here.
Field Station is an annual cycle of projects that features work by artists at different moments in their careers. With a particular focus on new terrain, whether new work or a new direction in an artist’s practice, the series emphasizes the importance of research by offering a space for artists to develop ideas that may be in the early stages of conception or articulation. Field Station approaches art as a complex language that involves many forms and draws upon different disciplines, from engineering, physics, and agriculture to literature, history, and technology. The notion of a field station specifically points to the importance of experimentation and the idea of the museum as software—a flexible structure that is constantly expanding beyond its walls (the hardware), wherein artists are encouraged to collaborate across disciplines at Michigan State University. The exhibitions change every two months, allowing six artists to participate in each year’s program. At the end of each cycle, a publication will be produced to report the “findings” from the Field Station. The series is curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges, Assistant Curators.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website