ArtBeat: Michael Oatman’s All Utopias Fell @ MASS MoCA


Michael Oatman: All Utopias Fell
Michael Oatman: All Utopias Fell

We gushed with excitement, but then we lamented when it was postponed. Now we’re happy to note that Michael Oatman’s All Utopias Fell is opening at MASS MoCA on Saturday, October 23 with an artist reception for MASS MoCA members. The show opens to the public on Sunday, October 24.

A long-term installation that will be open seasonally, All Utopias Fell is a project in three interrelated parts: The Shining and The Library of the Sun and Codex Solis:

The Shining is a 1970s-era ‘satellite’ that has crash-landed at MASS MoCA. This beautifully reflective, repurposed Airstream trailer – with large parachutes and active solar panels – is inspired by an earlier era of pulp aeronauts like Buck Rogers, Tom Swift and Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, as well as the works of Giotto, Jules Verne, NASA, and Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée.

Visitors will be allowed to climb a staircase and enter into the craft where they will encounter The Library of the Sun. Hybridizing a domestic space, a laboratory and a library, it has the feel of a hermitage, where the occupant will ‘be right back’, only it is 30 years later. Videos relating to the sun and its mythology flicker to life on the cockpit’s instrumentation panels. In addition to these elements, visitors will be stunned by a stained glass window in what was once the windshield of the vehicle.

Once inside the craft, visitors will also be able to view Codex Solis, a massive field of photovoltaic (PVs) or solar panels. At 50kw, the field will generate 7% of the power consumed by MASS MoCA. In addition to this 230-foot long grid, mirrors are interspersed in the middle of the field, and suggest an absent text. The arrangement of mirrors and solar panels is based on a specific quote by an unnamed author, and will not be revealed by the artist; instead the public will be encouraged to spend time with the piece, watch the reflected sky, and solve the riddle as birds and planes, inverted, fly by.

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