Ibrahim Mahama, NON ORIENTABLE PARADISE LOST 1667, 2017. Mixed media, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and White Cube. © Ibrahim Mahama. Installation view, Ex-Africa, CCBB Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2017. Image courtesy White Cube. Photo by Joana França. Image © White Cube
Exhibition features immersive installations by six international artists: El Anatsui, Madeline Hollander, Ibrahim Mahama, Karyn Olivier, Ebony G. Patterson, and Joe Wardwell
(Boston, MA—May 3, 2022) On May 26, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) will open at the ICA Watershed Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms, an exhibition of large-scale installations by six international artists who reclaim and reuse industrial and everyday materials: El Anatsui (b. 1944, Anyako, Ghana), Madeline Hollander (b. 1986, Los Angeles), Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987, Tamale, Ghana), Karyn Olivier (b. 1968, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981, Kingston, Jamaica), and Joe Wardwell (b. 1972, Chapel Hill, NC). Inspired by the mixed-use history of the Watershed space—first built in the 1930s as a copper pipe and sheet metal facility and serving since 2018 as a free site for contemporary art—the exhibition highlights how artists have derived inspiration from industry and labor through the poetic and political power of found images and goods. Organized by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Curator, with Anni Pullagura, Curatorial Assistant, Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms will be on view through September 5, 2022.
The six installations are as varied as the artists’ practices: Anatsui collects bottle caps and other refuse to form glittering, tapestry-like sculptures; Hollander programs automobile head and taillights as a choreography of street traffic; and Patterson makes intricate collages of flowers, birds, butterflies, and figures using the alluring and layered metaphor of the garden. Olivier and Mahama collect used clothing and crates, respectively, to build towering sculptures that reflect on human persistence, labor, and ingenuity. Finally, Wardwell, a Boston-based artist, will create a new, site-specific installation in dialogue with the rich history of labor songs.
“The artworks in Revival capture the power of reuse, resilience, and reclamation, celebrating a revival of the everyday at monumental scale,” said Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director. “These impressive, large-scale works take full advantage of the Watershed’s voluminous space, offering visitors the opportunity for exploration, discovery, and reflection.”
“The Watershed’s physical environment uniquely brings its past and present into dialogue, offering a bridge between the histories and practices of industry and of art,” said Erickson. “The idea for Revival came out of this dialogue. In their work, the artists in the exhibition reflect on systems of industry, nature, and society, making visible the often invisible forces that shape human experiences.”
Entry to the Watershed is free. Timed tickets are required for Water Shuttle transportation between the ICA and the Watershed, and can be purchased in advance online at icaboston.org. Water Shuttle tickets will be available online beginning May 4 for ICA members and May 11 for the general public.
Watershed Summer Events
Free Admission: Memorial Day, Juneteenth, and Labor Day
Mon, May 30, 10 AM–5 PM
Sun, Jun 19, 10 AM–5 PM
Mon, Sep 5, 10 AM–5 PM
The ICA is offering free museum admission for all on Memorial Day, Juneteenth, and Labor Day. Advanced timed tickets are required and will be available to reserve online at 10 AM the day before the event.
Play Date: Watershed Family Day
Sat, Jul 30, 11 AM–4 PM
Join us for a special ICA Play Date in the East Boston shipyard for a Watershed family day featuring music, community and art making. Please note that there will be no Play Date programming at the ICA’s Seaport location.
Shipyard Block Party
Sat, Aug 13, 12–5 PM
Spend the day in the East Boston Shipyard and Marina for an afternoon of art, music, games, local libations, and food. Please note that there will be no free Water Shuttle service for this event.
El Anatsui (b. 1944 in Anyako, Ghana) is a sculptor whose iconic installations transform everyday and recycled materials in dazzling, large-scale wall-based artworks. He is best known for his use of bottle caps that are hammered flat and then sewn together to create a metallic fabric, belying their coarse material in fluid and reflective configurations. Anatsui lives and works in Nsukka, Nigeria.
Madeline Hollander (b. 1986 in Los Angeles) is an artist, choreographer, and dancer who has performed with the Los Angeles Ballet and the Angela Corella’s Barcelona Ballet. Her art installation and performance practice explores the orchestration of movement by natural and built structures, from city traffic to the emergency systems in buildings to the migration of crickets. Hollander lives and works between New York and Los Angeles.
Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987 in Tamale, Ghana) is an author and artist who repurposes already repurposed objects to trace and investigate ideas of industry, commodity, and migrant labor. He creates monumental installations from collected and reused objects such as jute sacks sewn together in large-scale tapestries, or shoemaker boxes, wooden containers that are commonplace for “shoeshine boys” in the global south. Mahama lives and works between Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale, Ghana.
Karyn Olivier (b. 1968 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) explores how collective and individual memories remain and collect within everyday materials. Her sculpture, installation, video, photography, and public art interweaves histories of objects and locations with present-day narratives, highlighting overlooked histories and reinterpreting the permanence of monuments in public spaces. Olivier lives and works in Philadelphia.
Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a mixed media artist whose elaborate and multi-layered installations and sculptures address diverse experiences of the Black diaspora. Her works frequently evoke luscious environments mixed with difficult and dark imagery, recalling ideas of growth and decay, entropy and creation, in the natural and unnatural worlds. Patterson lives and works between Kingston and Chicago.
Joe Wardwell (b. 1972 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina) is a painter and muralist whose work combines text and graphic languages with bright, evocative installations. His work frequently incorporates lyrics drawn from rock ballads, alternative musical genres, or spoken word poetry in an investigation of the cultural landscapes throughout the United States. Wardwell lives and works in Jamaica Plain, MA.
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. Previous exhibitions at the Watershed include an immersive installation by Diana Thater, the U.S. premiere of John Akomfrah’s Purple, and a monumental sculpture by Firelei Báez. The Watershed was closed to the public in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the site was used to distribute boxes of food and art kits to the East Boston community from April 2020 through December 2021.
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 expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. 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 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Free admission to the ICA Watershed is made possible by the generosity of Alan and Vivien Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.
The ICA Watershed is supported by Vertex.
In-kind support of Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms generously provided by Blue Atlantic Fabricators.