Inaugurating the new ICA Watershed in East Boston will be two artworks by artist Diana Thater (b. 1962, San Francisco) that create immersive experiences through light and moving-image projections. The new space is scheduled to open in summer 2018.

“With the opening of the Watershed, the ICA once again transforms the cultural landscape of Boston and its waterfront through contemporary art,” said Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director. “The Watershed is a new opportunity for artists and audiences to experience the industrial, maritime, and social history of Boston, build a connection between the neighborhoods of East and South Boston, and activate our beautiful harbor through art, water transportation, and public access.” 

The installation will center on Thater’s artwork Delphine, reconfigured in response to the Watershed’s raw, industrial space, and coastal location. In this monumental work, underwater film and video footage of swimming dolphins spills across the floor, ceiling, and walls, creating an immersive underwater environment. As viewers interact with Delphine, they become performers within the artwork, their own silhouettes moving and spinning alongside the dolphins’. 

In addition to Delphine, the Watershed will feature a recent sculptural video installation, A Runaway World, focused on the lives and worlds of species on the verge of extinction and the illicit economies that threaten their survival. Produced in Kenya in 2016 and 2017, A Runaway World is staged within a unique architectural environment of free-standing screen structures designed by the artist. The Diana Thater installation is organized by Barbara Lee Chief Curator Eva Respini. 

“Diana Thater’s strategies of intensified color and visually stunning moving images will offer visitors an extraordinary introduction to the Watershed and raise urgent questions about the impact of human intervention on the environment,” said Medvedow.

Thater received a BA in Art History from New York University before receiving her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She has had major solo exhibitions at leading institutions, including the Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2016); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2015); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria and Natural History Museum, London (2009). Her work was featured in the 56th Venice Biennale at The Azerbaijan Pavilion as well as several Whitney Biennials (1995, 1997, and 2006), and is represented in prominent museum collections worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), and Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). Among her numerous notable awards, Thater has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2005) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1993). A prolific writer and educator, Thater lives and works in Los Angeles, where she teaches at the Art Center College of Design.

The Watershed will be housed in a former copper pipe factory restored and updated by award-winning firm Anmahian Winton Architects (AW). A raw, industrial space for art unlike any other in Boston, the Watershed will offer a flexible space for exhibitions, programming, and workshops, as well as an orientation gallery introducing visitors to the historic shipyard and a waterside plaza that will serve as a gathering place with stunning harbor views. The ICA will present artworks and public programs seasonally in the 15,000 square-foot space while continuing year-round programming in its Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed facility in Boston’s Seaport District. Transportation between the two locations will be by boat. Admission to the Watershed will be free for all.