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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Rachel Whiteread builds a City at the MFA

In the Museum of Fine Art’s Foster Gallery is the U.S. premier of artist Rachel Whiteread’s newest installation Place(Village). Also in the exhibit are a few other pieces by Whiteread, mainly preparatory work and studies, and a few examples of other work she has done. A small exhibit overall, but interesting for the look into the artist’s mind that the studies give.

Consisting of nearly two hundred English dollhouses, Place(Village) is located in a dark room with the dollhouses placed on ascending risers, the only illumination coming from lights within the dollhouses themselves. It gives one the feeling of having suddenly walked into a miniature city in the middle of the night, or perhaps the viewer has become a giant? The dollhouses surround the viewer on two sides, like walking down a road in this shrunken landscape. Oddly enough the faux cityscape, with its houses on a mountain-like setting rising higher as they moved away from me, made me think of San Francisco, a city known for its hilly terrain. I honestly can’t say why I thought of San Francisco, but I imagine each viewer will think of something different when they see this work. It also reminded me of my hometown, originally a small farming village that is constantly growing, due to all the buildings being dollhouses in the style of single-family homes. The layout of the structures is congested and crowded with little to know room between each one, not the typical city layout for buildings such as these.

Upon entering the dark room that the installation is located in, it takes the eyes a moment to adjust. As the viewer grows used to the light and the objects take focus and reveal their shapes to the viewer, it requires a few minutes to take it all in. One must walk around the room and see the dollhouses from different viewpoints. Observe how the miniature buildings rise as they move away from the viewer. And appreciate the decisions made when choosing these particular dollhouses and laying them out in the space. Somewhere along this path the viewer may start reminiscing or be nostalgic, or maybe that’s just me and my suburban background, and summers spent in rural Maine. To me the installation was like a village run amok, growing out of control like a cancer. I may be guilty of reading too much into this work, and I admit to having done the same with other pieces I have seen in the past, but it’s almost like seeing a city in the larval stage, and that any moment these houses may pupate into apartments and multi family homes.

The exhibition also includes a room with studies for Place(Village) and preparatory works and examples of other installations Whiteread has done. The installation is on display in the Foster Gallery from October 15th to January 25th.