Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit The Contemporary Museum and see the current show, The Reverse Ark, Futurefarmers' first solo exhibition. If you are not aware of Futurefarmers, they define themselves as
"A group of practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding us. We are teachers, researchers, designers, gardeners, scientists, engineers, illustrators, people who know how to sew, pattern makers, cooks and bus drivers with a common interest in creating work that challenge current social, political and economic systems."
As a Curatorial Studies concentrator, I was so very lucky to be able to get a walk through of the show with Irene Hofmann, the Executive Director and Curator for The Contemporary Museum. She was a very lively lady and when she spoke about the work her face just lit up, she really believes in the work she is showing and that passion really came through. The exhibition is part art installation, part community project, part learning platform developed around the concept of an “ark” as a site for preserving, exploring, and learning. For the duration of the exhibition the museum will house an array of Baltimore-specific recycled materials that will morph onto forms of unexpected/unknown character by way of public programming, community involvement, excursions, experiments and workshops. This ever-changing space is dynamic and it breaks the barriers of the museum setting, turning the gallery space onto an art lab of sorts.
The museum is now a vessel, an ark, to be precise. It has a sail, but there is catch, the sail is actually a massive loom and everyone is invited to become part of the weaving process. Oars were cut out from floorboards in local abandoned townhouses, for your rowing pleasure. The ship even has a printing press, in case you get bored, and visitors are invited tie large letter stamps to their feet and press a letter with ink onto Baltimore Sun surplus newsprint rolls.
photo by cara ober
Futurefarmers have taken bits and pieces of Baltimore and married them onto one fantastic collaboration that challenges traditional art practice. They have handed over their first solo show to Baltimore, and now Baltimore is welcome to do with it as they please. It will be interesting to follow the evolution of this space and the way in which Futurefarmers have facilitated the construction of art, as opposed to the admiration of art on a wall. Every inch will have been touched by a different person and each mark has a unique identity that together make up the "artist," the maker of the work, which in this case is Baltimore and Futurefarmers.