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ICA Watershed: A Singular Art Gallery

May 01, 2019 Blog
ICA Watershed: A Singular Art Gallery Neatly lined rows of red crosshairs

A short trip from The Mark East Boston is the renowned ICA Watershed, where locals and visitors alike come to enjoy large-scale art at the Boston Harbor. Now entering its second season, the ICA Watershed in East Boston is proving itself to be one of the most innovative galleries in the city. Here, we learn more about the space, and its second big installation, which is bound to make ripples on the Boston art scene.

It Started Life as a Sheet Metal and Copper Pipe Facility…

Yet decades later, it became a condemned sheet metal and copper pipe facility on the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina taken over by people with hopes to create something unexpected. Designed by Anmahian Winton Architects, the 15,000-square-foot ICA Watershed opened to gasps of wonderment and rave reviews in the summer of 2018. The New York Times and ArtReview magazine spoke of a dramatic new space for monumental art projects. ICA director Jill Medvedow touted it as somewhere “to spark the conscience, to feed the soul.” Most important, the ICA Watershed was a hit with visitors: “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful,” as one happy reviewer put it.

The First Installation

For its inaugural season, the waterfront gallery called on the services of artist Diana Thater. Her pieces for the exhibition featured a series of wonders drawn from the natural world. Fittingly, “Delphine,” Thater’s video installation from 1999, featured footage of dolphins frolicking beneath the water and swimming up toward the rays of the sun. Elsewhere, elephants and rhinoceroses roamed about on massive projections, framed ethereally with candy-pink lighting. “I shot them at a magic hour because I wanted this feeling of eternity,” Thater told The New York Times.

The Color Purple

If candy pink was the color of last year’s exhibition at ICA Watershed, then 2019’s featured hue is most definitely purple. In fact, “Purple” is the name of this year’s installation — the U.S. premiere of a video piece created by acclaimed artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. An immersive six-channel video installation, “Purple” has been described as “symphonic in scale.” Its five interwoven movements speak of climate change and biodiversity, and, just like Thater’s installation, work in harmony with the gallery’s maritime surroundings. “Purple” is on view from May 26 until Sept. 2, and is not to be missed.

Steeped in Maritime Heritage

Speaking of ICA Watershed’s maritime history, a permanent exhibition draws on the history of the building, celebrating its incredible re-emergence through the medium of art. The cherry on top of this waterfront treat? A free water taxi runs to and from ICA Watershed across Boston Harbor. Now that’s getting to and from your new condo in style.

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