By John Lynds
It may be a ways away but there’s already excitement and buzz surrounding the ICA’s (Institute of Contemporary Art) first exhibition at the institute’s planned second location on East Boston’s waterfront.
The ICA will take a formerly condemned industrial warehouse across from K.O. Pies at the Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street, and transform it into a thriving community art space called the Watershed.
This week Kelly Gifford, Deputy Director for Public Engagement and Planning for the ICA, announced the Watershed’s inaugural exhibition scheduled for this summer.
“We are thrilled to announce that the inaugural exhibition for the Watershed—the ICA’s seasonal artist space in East Boston—will be by internationally renowned artist Diana Thater,” said Gifford. “This immersive and visually stunning work—which reflects on the fragility of the natural world through mesmerizing light and film projections—will offer an extraordinary introduction for visitors to the Watershed. With the opening of the new space, the ICA will once again transform the cultural landscape of Boston and its waterfront through contemporary art.”
The exhibition will coincide with the Watershed’s grand opening scheduled for summer 2018.
“We have started renovation work on the Watershed and are projecting a summer 2018 opening,” said Gifford. “As work progresses over the next few months, we will be able to share more detailed information about opening dates and public events to inaugurate the new space.”
Housed in a former copper pipe factory, the 15,000-square-foot, raw, industrial space will be unlike anything in Boston. Gifford said the award-winning firm Anmahian Winton Architects has been engaged to restore the historic building for new use and create a unique space for immersive artworks engaged with the site. An introductory gallery will focus on the historic shipyard, while a waterside plaza will serve as a casual gathering space. The Watershed will be open seasonally, and admission will be free. Visitors will travel between the two locations by ferry.
“The Watershed represents an exciting and creative mode of growth for the museum,” said Gifford. “With this project, the ICA will make a cross-harbor connection that is central to our vision of art, civic life, and urban vitality. It takes art beyond our walls, building upon a decade-long history of public art projects that bring together landscape, history, and contemporary art. The new facility is a central component of the ICA’s recently completed five-year strategic plan, A Radical Welcome, designed to deepen the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston.”
Thater’s exhibition will center on the San Francisco native’s artwork Delphine. 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.