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Visit to the ICA

Boston has an incredible waterfront, but amazingly has never really been developed. One of the reasosn was that the Central Artery (Rt 93) had cut off the waterfront from the rest of the city. In 2003, the roadway was demolished and moved underground as part of the huge Big Dig project. This change has spurred all kinds of development in that part of Boston.

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) was the recipient of the waterfront site for a “museum that would be the cultural cornerstone of the waterfront.” The ICA broke ground on Fan Pier in September 2004 and on December 10, 2006 opened the first new art museum in Boston in nearly a hundred years! With the temperature forecast to be in the high 60s, we thought what better way to enjoy the day than with a trip to the ICA?

Even though we had walked past the modern ICA building many times over the years, this visit was the first time we had actually been inside the museum. The installation, Anthropocene Extinction, by the artist Swoon, greeted us at entrance. Readers may find it an interesting contrast to Gonkar Gyatso’s Shambala in Modern Times we wrote about a few days ago. The woman depicted—a 90-year old Aboriginal Australian, thought to be the last existing nomad—and the sea of images are the artist’s musing on an industrialized society’s effect on the people and the environment. The installation will be on view until the end of 2012.

The main galleries are on the second floor. To get there, visitors make their way past a huge span of windows overlooking the harbor in the Founders Gallery. The view alone was worth the price of admission. Figuring Color, works by different artists exploring the intersection between color and the body, is currently showing at the ICA. One of the many reasons why we find modern art interesting is it challenges our assumptions, takes the familiar and make it uncomfortable, or asks us to use our senses in unexpected ways.

As we moved through the building, it was interesting to note how well the art on displayand the architecture which displays it supported each other. The feeling is open, the flow is smooth, and the effect is dramatic.

Visitors looking to learn more about the exhibits should stop by the ICA media room. Those interested can help themselves to a variety of multimedia presentations and learn more about the artists behind the art…or just hang and enjoy the view!

With art and film being intimately interwined, we were not surprised to learn that the ICA also has a state-of-the-art theater. The space is not normally opened to visitors except when there is a screening. However, our guide was kind enough to give us a peek.

Boston’s waterfront is changing rapidly. The ICA is just one of the many wonderful and exciting results we can expect to see from this change.

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