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Intro_FL.Image 1Filthy Lucre is the centerpiece of an upcoming solo exhibition at MASS MoCA entitled, Uncertain Beauty, opening on March 8, 2014. It is a contemporary re-imagining of James McNeill Whistler’s 1876 decorative masterpiece Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room. Watch the video to hear me speak about the project in my MASS MoCA studio.

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I am reconstructing the historical room as a sumptuous ruin. Inside, viewers will find re-interpretations of Whistler’s paintings, along with stalactite-like ceiling fixtures and crumbling shelving replete with 250 hand-painted ceramic vessels. Glaze will appear to ooze down the wall, and the shimmering central peacock mural will partially melt into the floor in a puddle of gold. A soundscape featuring voice and cello composed by the New York-based trio BETTY will be heard intermittently through the space, punctuating the silence with hauntingly beautiful reverberations. The installation hints at parallels between the excesses and inequities of the Gilded Age and the social and economic disparities of our own time. At the same time, the work raises questions about patronage and the relationships between artists, collectors, and institutions.

Images and Video Credit: Jane Burns and MASS MoCA