(Boston, MA—April 30, 2019) The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens the second season of the Watershed, with the U.S. premiere of Purple, an immersive six-channel video installation by acclaimed artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah (b. 1957, Accra, Ghana). East Boston residents and ICA members are invited to preview days at the Watershed on Thursday, May 23–Saturday, May 25. The Watershed opens to the general public on Sunday, May 26 (see detailed schedule below).

Accompanying the presentation of Purple will be maps of Boston Harbor in 2030, 2050, and 2070 that demonstrate rising sea levels using research and data from the City of Boston’s Environment Department and Greenovate Boston.

An installation of photographs by teens from the ICA’s digital photography programs will be on view in the Watershed’s Harbor Room highlighting their perspectives on East Boston.

The 2019 season features a wide range of programming, including Aquí y allá: juntos a la mesa, a series of programs and activities on food, home, and community co-hosted by artist Evelyn Rydz and Eastie Farm’s Kannan Thiruvengadam; a Watershed family day held in conjunction with Eastie Week; and more.

Ticket reservations for the ICA Water Shuttle start May 7 for ICA Members and May 14 for the general public. Admission to the Watershed is always free, and Water Shuttle transportation between the Watershed and the ICA is included with the price of ICA admission, first come first served. Visit icaboston.org for schedule and to reserve tickets.
 

Exhibition

John Akomfrah: Purple
May 26Sep 2, 2019
Co-commissioned by the ICA and making its U.S. premiere at the ICA Watershed, Purple is an immersive six-channel video installation by the acclaimed artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah (b. 1957, Accra, Ghana). Akomfrah draws from hundreds of hours of archival footage, combining it with newly shot film and a hypnotic sound score to address themes related to the implications of climate change across the planet and its effects on human communities, biodiversity, and the wilderness. Sited in the Watershed’s industrial building, Purple resonates deeply with the Watershed’s harbor location and its proximity to the current and historical maritime industries of the East Boston Shipyard and Marina. Symphonic in scale and divided into five interwoven movements, the film features various disappearing ecological landscapes, from the hinterlands of Alaska and the desolate environments of Greenland to the Tahitian Peninsula and the volcanic Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. Purple conveys the complex and fragile interrelation of human and non-human life with a sense of poetic gravity that registers the vulnerability of living in precarious environments.
 

Artist Projects

Aquí y allá: juntos a la mesa
(Here and There: Together at the Table)
May 26Sep 2, 2019
Artist Evelyn Rydz highlights the important role the common table can serve as a site for gathering and for nourishment. Since 2016, Rydz has invited over 250 women to partake in communal meals made of diverse stories through an ongoing multigenerational community project, Comida Casera—Spanish for homemade food or food from home. Participants in Comida Casera events share stories and a dish inspired by a person who had a meaningful impact on their connection to home. Through these simple and welcoming gestures, notions of home and community expand through food and storytelling.

Throughout the summer season, visitors will hear recorded stories collected at past Comida Casera events at Rydz’s lively table. A series of programs and activities on cultivating food, home, and community will be co-hosted by Kannan Thiruvengadam of Eastie Farm and the artist. Visitors will surround themselves with a collection of plants comprising a range of local edible species grown by Thiruvengadam, and reflect on our past, present, and future relationship with food sources. During non-event days/times, visitors are invited to share their stories on cards provided for others to read and reflect on.

Summer 2019 activations of Aquí y allá

Transplant Tales
Sat, Jun 15, 2:30 PM
Stories of transplantation experiences; hosted by Eastie Farm.

Many factors go into how a plant thrives in its soil. Sometimes growers need to transplant their crops from one place to another so it can better flourish. What does it take for not just plants, but also people to successfully take root in a new home? We invite the community to share tales about their own transplantation in this program hosted by Eastie Farm. Listen and participate in this story sharing event about resiliency from the resettling from one home to another.

Solstice Stories
Sat, Jun 22, 2:30 PM
Inspired by the summer sun, farmers share their stories; hosted by Eastie Farm.

What is the Summer Solstice? In this program hosted by Eastie Farm, learn about what role the sun plays in the cultivation of crops in New England compared to other parts of the world. Discussion will also examine the environmental impact on the community from recent and future rising temperatures.

Recetas de casa
Sat, Jul 20, 2:30 PM
Visitors share recipes in this community event with artist Evelyn Rydz.

Artist Evelyn Rydz invites visitors to exchange stories about the food and people in their lives who inspire a sense of home. This is also an opportunity for visitors to speak with Evelyn in person about the project and the ideas surrounding it.

Green Walk/Camino Verde
Sat, July 27, 2:30 PM
A walking tour of community gardens; hosted by Eastie Farm.

Meet at the Watershed to begin a walking tour of community green spaces along East Boston’s Marginal Street. Stops along this walk include the Joseph Ciampa Community Garden, Garden at the Rockies, and the Rockies Urban Wild. Learn from Eastie Farm about how residents of East Boston maintain thriving green spaces in an urban environment, and discuss the role of an “urban wild” in the community.          

Cosecha Comida (Harvest Food)
Sat, Aug 3, 2:30 PM
Exploring harvesting stories; hosted by Eastie Farm.

Cultures across the globe have celebrated different forms of harvest festivals for much of human existence, often taking place in the late summer and early fall after crops have grown bountiful. Thanksgiving, Pongal, and Sukkot are just a few examples of these. Eastie Farm invites participants of this program to tell tales of their experiences of coming together with friends and family to celebrate the sharing of food. 

Eco-walk
Sat, Aug 17, 2:30 PMMeet at the ICA Watershed and tour the East Boston Greenway with conversation about climate and community; hosted by Eastie Farm.

Explore the urban greenspaces of East Boston on this Eco-walk with Eastie Farm. Participants will visit Piers Park and the East Boston Greenway. While touring these spaces near the Waterfront, discuss East Boston’s plans for climate preparedness & resiliency.

Garden Taste
Sat, Aug 24, 2:30 PM
Local chefs discuss their use of local food sources. 

Join artist Evelyn Rydz and co-host Ellie Tiglao, chef and co-owner of Filipino-American restaurant Tanam in Somerville. Surrounding the Aquí y allá installation space, edible plants are grown. Participants are invited to enjoy the harvest by garnishing their dishes with herbs grown on site, and join in community story telling about ancestral food and narrative cuisine. 

A Community in Focus: East Boston
May 26Sep 2, 2019

This installation of photographs created by teens from the ICA’s digital photography programs highlights their perspectives on East Boston—home for many of them. This initiative was an opportunity to highlight their daily observations and discover new neighborhood sights. Individuals associated with East Boston’s Atlantic Works Gallery, Eastie Farm, and Zumix guided the photographers to favorite sights, introduced them to community members, and shared stories about themselves and the neighborhood. The ICA provided teens with digital cameras to document the people and places, which helped them to gain a better understanding of placemaking and of East Boston’s past and present, and to imagine the neighborhood’s future and their own place within it. Many of the teens continued this exploration on their own time, with cameras in hand. Says ICA Teaching Artist Marlon Orozco, “From exploring the waterline art installations to public gardens, our teens went beyond the lens.”

The ICA offers a variety of programs for teens in schools and neighborhoods throughout the city, including East Boston. Please visit icateens.org to learn more about these programs and to view additional artwork in a range of media.

 

Public Programs

Gallery Talk: Marlon Orozco and Betsy Gibbons
Sun, Jun 9, 2 PM
The ICA Teens spent time in East Boston, exploring the area and interacting with community members. The result of this endeavor is A Community in Focus: East Boston, an exhibition that features twelve captivating photographs by nine youth artists. Join Marlon Orozco, ICA’s teaching artist, and Betsy Gibbons, Director of Teen Programs, as they discuss the process of working on the exhibition with young people, and learn more about the show from the artists themselves.

Watershed Family Day
Sat, Jul 13, 12–4 PM
Join us as we celebrate Eastie Week with a special family day event at the Watershed featuring art making activities, pop-up dance performances, tours in English and Spanish, food, music, and fun! Community partners Bibliocycle, East Boston Social Centers, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Maverick Landing Community Services, and Veronica Robles Cultural Center will be on hand with activities. Add a boat ride in the mix with the purchase of an ICA admission ticket for round-trip Water Shuttle service between East Boston and the Seaport. Admissions tickets can be purchased online starting July 5—purchase ahead to reserve your time slot for the Water Shuttle.

 

Tours

ICA Watershed en español
Jun 8, Jun 22, Jul 13, Jul 27, Aug 10, Aug 24 1 PM
Acompañe a un educador bilingüe del ICA el segundo y cuarto sábado de cada mes para realizar una visita guiada gratuita en español en el Watershed del ICA. Estas visitas guiadas dialogadas incluirán una introducción a la historia del Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina y John Akomfrah: Purple. No se requiere inscripción previa.

Join an ICA educator on the second and fourth Saturday of the month for a free tour in Spanish at the ICA Watershed. These conversational tours will include an introduction to the history of the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina and John Akomfrah: Purple. No pre-registration is required.

ICA Watershed Public Tours
Saturdays, June–Aug, 1:30 PM
Learn more about the ICA Watershed and John Akomfrah: Purple during these free, conversational tours led by volunteer tour guides at the ICA. No pre-registration is required.
 

About the Watershed

On July 4, 2018 the ICA opened to the public its new ICA Watershed expanding artistic and educational programming on both sides of Boston Harbor—the Seaport and East Boston. Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, the ICA Watershed transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a vast and welcoming space to see and experience large-scale art. The Watershed builds upon the extraordinary momentum achieved by the museum since opening its visionary waterfront building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in 2006. Admission to the Watershed—central to the museum’s vision for art and civic life—is free for all.
 

Watershed hours

Tuesday + Wednesday, Saturday + Sunday: 11 AM–5 PM
Thursday + Friday: 11 AM–9 PM
Closed on Mondays, but will be open for special community days on Memorial Day and Labor Day.
 

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and augmenting art’s role as educator, incubator, and convener for social engagement. Its innovative exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. Spanning two locations across Boston Harbor, the ICA offers year-round programming at its iconic building in Boston’s Seaport and seasonal programming (May-September) at the Watershed in an East Boston shipyard.

The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


John Akomfrah: Purple is organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Cara Kuball, Curatorial Project Manager.

John Akomfrah: Purple has been commissioned by the Barbican, London and co-commissioned by Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden, TBA21-Academy, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow.

Free admission to the ICA Watershed is made possible by the generosity of Alan and Vivien Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.

The Boston Foundation welcomes you to the ICA Watershed.

The Boston Foundation logo

The ICA Watershed is supported by Fund for the Arts, a public art program of the New England Foundation for the Arts.

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