Installation view, Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2022. Photo by Charles Mayer.
In summer 2022, the ICA Watershed presents Revival: Materials and Monumental Forms, an exhibition of large-scale installations by six international artists who reclaim and reuse industrial and everyday materials. Inspired by the Watershed building’s mixed-use history—built in the 1930s as a copper pipe and sheet metal manufacturing plant and serving since 2018 as a free site for contemporary art—this exhibition highlights how artists have derived inspiration from industry, labor, and the poetic and political power of found goods.
Participating artists include El Anatsui (b. 1944, Anyako, Ghana), Madeline Hollander (b. 1986, Los Angeles), Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987, Tamale, Ghana), Karyn Olivier (b. 1968, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981, Kingston, Jamaica), and Joe Wardwell (b. 1972, Chapel Hill, NC). Making visible the often invisible forces that shape human experiences, these artists reflect on the systems of industry, nature, and society in monumental artworks. For some, recycled objects expand ideas of materiality and industry in daily life: Anatsui collects bottle caps and other refuse to form glittering, tapestry-like sculptures; Hollander programs automobile head and taillights to blink with the movement of traffic; and Patterson makes intricate collages of flowers, birds, butterflies, and figures. Olivier and Mahama collect used clothing and crates, respectively, to build towering sculptures that reflect on human persistence, labor, and ingenuity. Wardwell, a Boston-based artist, will create a new, site-specific installation in dialogue with the rich history of labor songs. Together, these artworks capture the power of reuse, resilience, and reclamation, celebrating a revival of the everyday at monumental scale.