August 4, 2021

Taryn Simon Installs Interactive Artwork at Mass MOCA

The Pipes, an interactive installation by Taryn Simon on view at Mass MOCA in Massachusetts
The Pipes is an interactive installation by Taryn Simon on long-term view at Mass MOCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, that has been reincarnated from its previous appearance, 2016’s An Occupation of Loss at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. Photography by Will McLaughlin/courtesy of Taryn Simon.

Talk about prescient. It was 2016 when artist Taryn Simon mounted An Occupation of Loss at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. It encompassed the presence and sounds of professional mourners inside tall reverberating columns designed in collaboration with Shohei Shigematsu of OMA, blending sculpture, architecture, and performance in an exploration of grief. Cut to 2018, when Simon visited Mass MOCA, the former factory campus turned museum in North Adams, to install different work but also scout outdoor sites in hopes of displaying her towers there someday. That day turned out to be right now.

With COVID-19, artist and institution saw not only the timeliness of the installation, now called The Pipes, but also that it could serve the needs of the public in the wake of the pandemic. “Its simultaneous togetherness and isolation felt resonant in new ways,” curator Alexandra Foradas says. The columns are composed of poured-concrete modules that had been disassembled and stored; the sections were strapped to a fleet of flatbeds, trucked to Massachusetts, and unloaded and slotted together on top of each other via crane, the column tops open to the air. The goal is for visiting musicians and community members to explore the acoustic spaces—to play, reflect, or just stargaze.

a look up through a section of The Pipes, an interactive installation
The 11 poured-concrete structures are 22 feet tall (instead of the 45 feet they were in NY), each with an 8-foot diameter, a built-in bench inside, and sonic properties similar to those of an upside-down well. Photography by Will McLaughlin/ courtesy of Taryn Simon.

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