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Sculpture Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art to Open in June 2010
Los Carpinteros, Free Basket, 2008 (computer rendering) © Los Carpinteros. Courtesy: Sean Kelly Gallery , New York.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art today announced that 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park will open on June 20, 2010 with a public grand opening celebration including tours and a Summer Solstice program. Located on 100 acres of land that includes untamed woodlands, wetlands, a lake, and meadows adjacent to the Museum, 100 Acres will be one of the largest museum art parks in the country and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of temporary, site-responsive artworks. The park will open with eight newly commissioned inaugural works by international artists, a LEED certified visitor center and numerous walking trails that highlight the indigenous landscape. As with the IMA galleries, admission to 100 Acres will be free.

In 2008, the IMA announced the eight inaugural commissions for the park. Atelier Van Lieshout, Kendall Buster, Alfredo Jaar, Jeppe Hein, Los Carpinteros, Tea Mäkipää, Type A and Andrea Zittel have spent several years working closely with the IMA to develop projects that explore and respond to the varied environments of 100 Acres. The IMA’s goal is to present contemporary art projects and exhibitions that provoke a reexamination of humanity’s multifaceted relationship with the environment.

“Each of the artists commissioned to create works for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park will present a new and invigorating perspective on the interaction between art and the natural environment,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. “They have conceived their projects with great sensitivity to this particular site, while also engaging in broad global questions about the relationship between art, nature and culture. It is tremendously exciting that 100 Acres positions the IMA as a leader in how museums can champion both contemporary artists and the environment.”

100 Acres is bordered by the White River and runs contiguous to the IMA’s 52-acre campus, more than half of which is composed of historic landscapes and gardens. Commissions for the Park will be ongoing, with additional artists’ projects announced annually. The evolving aesthetic landscape will be characterized by continual renewal just like the natural landscape. Formerly a gravel pit and construction area, the Park has transformed from a disturbed site into a lush and wild natural terrain. The IMA has engaged architect Marlon Blackwell and landscape architect Edward L. Blake to develop a LEED-certified visitor pavilion and related walking trails throughout the site that emphasize native plantings.

Concepts for the eight inaugural installations include:

• Atelier Van Lieshout: Joep Van Lieshout, with his studio Atelier Van Lieshout, will present Funky Bones, a group of 20 bone-shaped benches that will together form the shape of an enormous, stylized human skeleton. The project grows out of Van Lieshout’s interest in pre-history and relics, with bones emerging from the ground like archeologically revealed specimens, symbolizing artifacts and remains from previous occupants. The artist, who encountered visitors sitting on rocks and other natural perches on his visit to Indianapolis, wanted to create benches as sites for resting, climbing and social interaction in 100 Acres. A fantastical apparition, Funky Bones will be located in a shady grove of trees adjacent to the park’s central meadow.

• Kendall Buster: Kendall Buster will create an overlook on the lake in 100 Acres titled Stratum Pier. On the southwest side of the lake, a meandering deck-like path will lead to a series of organically shaped layered platforms at the lake’s edge. The design of the platform suggests a topographical map with stacked layers, behaving like a kind of "extrusion" from the shoreline. Terracing and curved edges reference erosion and layered growth. Stratum Pier reflects Buster's interest in the merging of the natural and the built environment.

• Alfredo Jaar: Alfredo Jaar will create a poetic new public intervention, Park of the Laments, nestled in the woods of 100 Acres. The project is composed of a square within a square, an outside perimeter and an interior square made of indigenous trees. Visitors will approach the park and descend into a dark, underground tunnel. Moving toward the light end, viewers will climb stairs that lead them above ground into the center of Jaar’s park. Natural, minimalist wooden benches will be placed around the amphitheater of stairs, allowing visitors to sit quietly and meditate within the minimalist cube, formed of a grass floor, tree walls and a ceiling defined by the sky. Jaar describes the park as a refuge, a place where visitors can lament and purge the global atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries.

• Jeppe Hein: Jeppe Hein produces experiential, architectural, and kinetic artworks that are often activated by the audience. The artist is in the process of developing a new work that encourages social exchange between park visitors. Hein’s kinetic sculptural installation titled Distance, which will be exhibited in the IMA’s Forefront galleries to coincide with the opening of 100 Acres, is conceived as a counterpart to Hein’s installation in 100 Acres.

• Los Carpinteros: The artist collective is developing a large-scale installation in 100 Acres that continues their interest in the juxtaposition of the practical and the imaginary. Los Carpinteros has conceived a site-specific installation titled Free Basket that draws on the form of the basketball court, turning it into an aesthetically surprising Surrealistinspired sculpture that also offers a site for the community to engage in recreational play. In developing their project, Los Carpinteros chose to draw on the rich history of basketball in the city of Indianapolis. Their project seeks to bring together art, culture and sports, providing an interactive platform for the larger community that engages them in art.

• Tea Mäkipää: Mäkipää is creating a sculptural profile of a large, dark ship emerging from the lake in 100 Acres. The ship’s name, Eden 2, will be painted on each side. An unexpected sight in the idyllic natural environment of the park, the ship is a modern-day ark seemingly filled with human passengers from an unknown homeland. A guard house on the shore nearby will allow visitors views of Eden 2 and access to footage of the ship’s passengers, imagined as refugees displaced by the ecological impact of climate change. Eden 2 will function as an anomalous and thought-provoking vision in 100 Acres, a curious and forewarning presence that brings the crises of the wider world to this corner of Indianapolis.

• Type A: This two-man collaborative has created the sculptural installation Team Building (Align), which will consist of two 30-foot-wide metal rings suspended from telephone poles and trees, and oriented so that their two shadows will become one during the annual Summer Solstice. The designated time of alignment as well as the size of the rings was determined by a team of interdepartmental IMA staff members who worked with the artists over a two-year period on a real-time experiential education performance. From philosophical conversations about art to physically rigorous challenge courses, Type A and the IMA team collaborated to develop a sculptural form that could metaphorically convey the spirit and complexity of their shared collaboration. The project also generated photographs, blogs and videos, which can be seen on the IMA website.

• Andrea Zittel: Zittel has designed a floating island titled I-land to be installed in the 35-acre lake, a dominant feature of the park’s landscape. About 20 feet in diameter, the island will be fully inhabitable and will serve as an experimental living structure that examines the daily needs of contemporary human beings. Each summer I-land will be occupied by one or two residents who are also students from Herron School of Art & Design in Indianapolis. They will collaborate with Zittel by adapting and modifying the island’s structure according to their individual needs. They will be outfitted with a row boat and will have access to a handheld PDA that enables them to share pictures and to blog and Twitter about their island experience. The park resident will interact with park visitors throughout the summer, sharing information about the living art experiment and the park itself. The project blends elements of environmental art, sculpture, design and performance in a unique way, offering a challenging and experimental forum for exploring ideas about individualism and self-sufficiency, which have long-standing connections to the history of modernism.

“100 Acres offers a new model for sculpture parks in the 21st-century,” said Lisa Freiman, Chair of the IMA’s Department of Contemporary Art and Director of 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. “Unlike most sculpture parks, which emphasize canonical artists and place their works permanently in a fixed environment, 100 Acres will feature ongoing, temporary commissions, often supporting artists who have not yet had the opportunity to work on a grand public scale. We’re promoting vital, open experimentation and providing a platform for international artists to challenge themselves as well as our community by broadening current expectations around contemporary art.”

The IMA’s education and public programming departments will also collaborate with artists, educators and performers to create experimental and adventurous programming for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park.

As planning for the park has evolved, so too has society’s understanding of the delicate balance between humans and nature. First conceived in the 1990s to connect the Museum to the natural environment, today the park is part of a broader mission at the IMA that promotes environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. IMA’s environmental philosophy includes examining the potential impact of the art and other structures on the park itself. In keeping with that theme, IMA is working with the park’s architect, Marlon Blackwell, to create one 3,000- square-foot structure that is functional, aesthetically innovative, LEED-certified and will provide visitors with restrooms, emergency phones and shelter.

To date, IMA has raised $23.6 million toward the park’s campaign goal of $25 million, which constitutes the third phase of the IMA’s expansion program. Institutional upgrades also included an expansion and renovation of the Museum’s building in 2005 and the renovation of Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens, completed in 2002.

A National Advisory Committee of four distinguished leaders in the fields of art and architecture assisted the IMA in developing plans for 100 Acres. The advisors included: John Beardsley, senior lecturer in the landscape architecture department at Harvard Design School; Mary Beebe, director of the Stuart Collection, University of California, San Diego; Reed Kroloff, director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and former editor of Architecture magazine; and Ned Rifkin, former Undersecretary for Art at the Smithsonian.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art | 100 Acres | Maxwell L. Anderson | Los Carpinteros |

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