Last week I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art as part of a team led by Rob Stein of IMA Lab. We were there to discuss Art Babble, a collaborative site featuring video from museums including LACMA. During a break, we adjourned to the recently opened 100 Acres Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park adjoining the museum. I saw work by familiar artists and some I haven’t encountered before.
We started with Jeppe Hein. This is one of 15 benches, collectively called Bench Around the Lake. I love the way it engages the rock.
Nearby, you enter an underground passageway leading to Alfredo Jaar’s Park of the Laments. The passage has a strange acoustic effect, muffling the noise of the outside world as you near the stairs that lead up into a walled garden.
The profundity of the walled space silenced our typically talkative group; the only noise was the hum of cicadas. Jaar intended the park as a refuge and a place to lament the atrocities of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I was struck by the way the strict geometry of the garden appears to hold at bay the lush chaos of the surrounding parkland, as if the trees and undergrowth are respectfully complicit in the piece.
In marked contrast to the solemnity of the Park of the Laments, Cuban collective Los Carpinteros created a radical variation of the basketball court, called Free Basket.
I watched an excellent video interview with one of the crew who erected the piece; he describes the pride the fabrication team took in demonstrating their welding skill to achieve the swooping arches that animate and complicate the court. (Incidentally, Rob tells me that he sees people shooting hoops there everyday, and that it’s one of the best places around for a game of horse.) Apparently the artists originally proposed a half-court creation; a prescient curator urged them to go full-court and it’s impossible to imagine the piece any other way.
Have you ever been through a cringe-worthy team-building workshop? I once had to assemble a raft from a bunch of junk and paddle it down a frigid creek in the Welsh countryside. I wish that, instead, I’d been part of Type A’s team-building workshop at the IMA, which resulted in the stunning piece, Align.
I hear that the collaborative process had its bumps, but the finished work suggests a coming together of imagination and purpose. I can’t wait to see the documentary about Type A that the IMA is producing.
Andrea Zittel, whose work is included in LACMA’s own collection, contributed Indianapolis Island, a floating pod-like structure anchored to the bottom of the lake.
For two weeks this summer, two artists lived aboard the island. Every day at an appointed time, they paddled ashore and traded with visitors who brought all manner of supplies. I love their blog account of the experience.
The park is the site of an ongoing commission series. I’d love to see it in the winter.