100 Acres: The Groundbreaking



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What is 100 Acres?
This ArtBabble video will answer your questions.

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100 Acres on IMA Website
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On September 18, 2008 the Indianapolis Museum of Art broke ground on 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. Located on 100 acres of untamed woodlands, wetlands, a lake, and meadows adjacent to the Museum, the Art & Nature Park will be one of the largest museum art parks in the country and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of site-specific artworks. It will open in spring of 2010 with a visitor center, numerous trails, and eight site-specific inaugural works commissioned from emerging and midcareer artists. This groundbreaking ceremony features remarks from a variety of IMA staff and from the artist duo, Type A. Beyond the traditional groundbreaking ceremony, Type A led a participatory activity with staff and guests inspired by their commission for 100 Acres.


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00:00:04 I'm Max Anderson, I'm The Melvin and Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and I am very privileged to stand before you today, literally on the shoulders of giants.

00:00:14 I am simply one more person in a long series of dreamers who brought this park to its current beginning and that starts with Bret Waller who is wearing

00:00:24 a boater, somewhere, there he is.

00:00:27 [Applause]

00:00:35 Bret and I, being colleagues, and we were colleagues long before he retired, know the ways in which projects get done. They get done by lots and lots of people

00:00:45 and then, eventually, somebody stands at a microphone. But, actually, the dreaming and vision Bret brought to this project was absolutely at its core

00:00:54 and the thought of taking a property which began, in effect, as an industrial site, after it left the natural one, became a waste land and then nature reclaimed it

00:01:04 and today the IMA hopes to leave nature in charge, to a very considerable extent, and all we are going to do is tune it to make sure that as works of art

00:01:14 are displayed and presented throughout this beautiful space that they are in concert with the sounds and sites and fragrances of nature and not,

00:01:24 in a way, plopped in. So, part of the operating approach we take is to look at this park as a place of arrival and departure but most importantly for contemplation,

00:01:35 for experiences that are not easily had in a major city and an opportunity to reflect on our place in the world.

00:01:43 We are renaming it today with a nickname, which you might have seen signs describing, 100 Acres: the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park

00:01:53 and it is 100 acres. Behind me is a thirty-five acre lake and the rest of the grounds around you, total about sixty-five acres and in that 100 acres, we don't intend to put art

00:02:04 in every single vantage point. We want to make sure the amplitude of the space continues to be honored and the glory of nature continues to prevail,

00:02:15 but equally we want artists to have any opportunity to make their expressions over time, not permanently, for the most part, but over time because art is not permanent,

00:02:25 although the Latins once said that. Art in the outdoor environment cannot be permanent. It has to live through cycles and the opportunity we bring to artists

00:02:35 we hope is an exciting one to work on a project that has a lifespan and will eventually find another work in its place. So, unlike other parts around the country, this one is

00:02:45 dedicated and devoted to the premise that living artists will always be at its core.

00:02:54 Many people who have been responsible for this project extend to donors who are here today and others who are not. I just want to start by thanking Len Bentley

00:03:04 for his leadership and specifically for the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation for their leading gift. We thank you so much.

00:03:10 [Applause]

00:03:17 That gift is essential because it's about endowing this property, it's about making sure that going forward, others who take my place and Lisa's place and generations to come will have a basis on which

00:03:27 to work and for an art museum that is at the core of how we live. Other donors have been indispensable as well and I will just read their names and if you could withhold applause until

00:03:38 I've said their names. It's Daniel and Kate Appel, Edgar and Dorothy Fehnel, The W. C. Griffith Foundation Trust, Michelle and Perry Griffith, The Indianapolis Foundation,

00:03:49 Myrta Pulliam, The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Bren and Mel Simon, James and Nancy Smith, and Suzy and Jack Sogard and I thank each of you

00:03:58 very, very much for your generosity.

00:04:00 [Applause]

00:04:08 Among those names, there are many people involved beyond, simply those names I read there are others who supported the foundations and who support the family in their quest

00:04:17 to make this a great destination for our city and, obviously, we are very grateful to all. I'll close my remarks by introducing Lisa Frieman

00:04:27 who is the Director of 100 Acres and also the Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I'll say what a lot of artists would probably say

00:04:37 at this point which is that Mark Zelonis' efforts to make this park prepared and ready for the experience of art have been indispensable and in partnership with him,

00:04:47 Lisa has brought, as the director of the park, an amazing vision, of what we should be providing, an access for artists in this space and that vision

00:04:57 she'll have her chance to share with you, but I just want to express on behalf of the staff, all the staff, the buildings and grounds staff, all of those involved in preparing this land

00:05:07 in horticulture division, environmental and historic division, I should say. All of those staff and security and registration and curatorial, every department of the museum has been

00:05:17 involved in this park and all of us work in concert with the vision that Lisa is now bringing to us. So with that, I am very pleased to introduce Dr. Lisa Freiman.

00:05:26 [Applause]

00:05:37 I can't believe how beautiful it is. You always worry on days like this that it's going to rain and I think it is fate that it's so perfect.

00:05:48 I was walking around the grounds this morning and looking at the historic part of the property at Oldfields and the gardens and no one was here yet

00:05:58 on the campus and I thought to myself this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and it's one of the richest places I have ever been and I mean that

00:06:08 in terms of the diversity of experiences you can have at The Indianapolis Museum of Art on the 150 acres of our campus.

00:06:18 I guess I talk to you as the director of the park and also as a curator and I do different things here. When I came to the IMA six years ago

00:06:29 and saw the space, it seemed like such an opportunity, such a jewel for the city. It seemed like it would be something that we could turn into

00:06:40 a multitude of experiences for the community across Indianapolis and, along with my colleagues, I spent a lot of time thinking about how we could transform

00:06:51 this space. What we could do here that would make it distinct from what other museums were doing with sculpture parks around the world, and

00:07:01 we started working on a plan for a 21st century museum park, thinking, how could we be on the forefront? How could we

00:07:11 create something here in Indianapolis, that would bring people in our local community but also from around the world, to see what we are doing here? How could we make this a jewel for our city?

00:07:22 And, we decided that we were going to do something that no one had done before and we were going to commit all of our resources for the park to living artists,

00:07:34 privileging emerging and mid-career artists as opposed to senior artists who had already made a name from themselves in the field and that we were going to bring in people from all over the world

00:07:44 and we were going to allow people in the community to become engaged with the artists, to learn about what they were working on, to participate in their projects

00:07:54 and we would create temporary experiences here and temporary ways to find variably, really, projects can be up for a day

00:08:05 and they could be up for ten years, it just depends on what the artists are working on. But what we wanted to do, more than anything, was to provide a platform for living artists

00:08:16 to create outside of the marketplace, to not have to worry about making work that could be sold in an auction or in a gallery,

00:08:26 not something that had to be attended to permanently in a museum because we have that inside. We wanted to create something that was completely innovative and creative and

00:08:36 experimental. There are not a lot of places in the United States right now where artists can come, can be given 100 acres to explore

00:08:46 and to think about what they might want to do in response to it. All the projects that we are going to be inaugurating in September of next year

00:08:57 will be commissioned projects, none of them existed before the artists came here and started exploring the site, learning about Indianapolis, learning about the IMA, learning about the trees

00:09:07 and the flora and fauna that's all around you and their challenges are to think about how to create something here that will make an experience

00:09:18 for our community and for the people who visit this park and so we will be having objects of all different media,

00:09:27 some of them will be floating in the lake, some of them will be out in the meadow, there is a sheet that's floating around with a map that will show you all of the placements for the different artists.

00:09:39 We have Andrea Zittel who is a Los Angeles based artist who is creating a floating island for us on the lake that people will be able to take a boat to. Atelier van Lieshout

00:09:48 from Amsterdam is going to create Funky Bones, which will be in this grove of trees, it's a giant skeleton and people will be able to climb on it

00:09:58 and sit on it and picnic on it and kids will be able to jump around on it. Jeppe Hein will be creating a project, Shaking Bush, over near our visitor's pavilion.

00:10:09 Kendall Buster will be creating a dock that's based on the biomorphic and organic forms of the landscape here and that will be up over there. People will be able to, with licenses,

00:10:19 fish and picnic there as well. Tea Makipaa is creating a ship that will be in the distance over here.

00:10:30 We have Alfredo Jaar and Los Carpinteros who are two artists who have not been cited yet but they are developing their projects and we are going to have

00:10:40 some news about them in the next few weeks. I want to mention two special people who are here today. Ed Blake is our architect

00:10:51 for our visitor center. He is over here. He is an extraordinary architect who has done a lot of architecture in the Ozarks and...

00:11:00 [Marlon.]

00:11:01 What did I say?

00:11:02 [Ed.]

00:11:02 Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. You don't look anything alike, I have known you for years, I am sorry. Marlon Blackwell, our architect and he is developing

00:11:12 an incredibly sensitive visitor's pavilion that is going to be nestled in the shade of the woods and is taking its inspiration from the

00:11:22 organicism of the nature itself and it's going to be an extraordinary experience, a LEED-certified structure that's environmentally sound and we know that that's going to become an important destination

00:11:33 for architects locally; but also around the country as well. And then we have Ed Blake, our landscape architect, our Poet-In-Residence

00:11:42 who does with landscape what artists do with paint and canvas. He is a remarkable individual and we are lucky to have him leading the

00:11:53 direction of our landscape journeys and really teasing out the experiences of nature that are already here and making them more obvious to you.

00:12:05 Last but not least, I want to introduce two artists who are here with us today who are very, very dear to my heart. They are Type A, Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin.

00:12:16 They are New York-based artists, conceptual artists and for those of you who are not familiar with conceptualism, it basically means that the idea is the thing that makes the art.

00:12:27 It's the thing that generates the art and they work in all different media and so they do photography and video and performance and sculpture and when I asked them

00:12:37 to come and do a project here at the park I was interested in their investigation into human competition and the way that their work explores

00:12:47 struggles and concerns and tensions between people. I thought they would do something interesting out here. What they wound up doing was proposing

00:12:57 a team building project and you are going to have an opportunity to hear a little bit more about it, I don't want to spoil it and we are going to have a little activity for everyone to participate

00:13:07 in at the end of the remarks today. So, the activity will essentially give you a sense of what we've been working on

00:13:18 across the institution over the last few years in order to realize this park.

00:13:25 I want to introduce Chad Franer who is our horticultural manager and he is also an artist in his own right.

00:13:36 He is a remarkable, remarkable award-winning horticulturalist and he is going to tell you a little bit about the nature part of things and how it's going to interact with the art.

00:13:47 Thank you.

00:13:48 [Applause]

00:13:54 Thank you very much! I would like to thank a few people, in particular myself, Mark Zelonis and Krista Favis and the entire horticulture and ground staff

00:14:05 who have been working on this site, for coming up almost on a decade, doing quite a bit of the work that you may not notice right now but this is not what it looked like in original when we started.

00:14:18 This area had thousands of floods with the White River and has created this beautiful oxbow in the river which is allowed for a fertile bottom land

00:14:29 which was used for decades and decades as farmland and then in the mid '60s, the quarry was used for gravel

00:14:39 for the neighboring highway system, which you see. After the quarry had closed, the property was donated to the IMA.

00:14:48 At this point, the landscape was extremely sparse and it allowed a few species of trees to thrive and a lot of exotic invasives

00:14:58 which are Amur honeysuckle, which you may all know about and I am sure it's in 90 percent of your yards at this point.

00:15:07 Over the past five years, our grounds crew lead by Krista Favis has been removing this invasive material, through during the winter

00:15:17 and this project has allowed more light to get into the forest and allow our native plant species to reemerge and come back out,

00:15:27 which is what we are shooting for. Recently, with the generosity of the Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation Development Council, we have planted over 600

00:15:38 trees and shrubs, native trees and shrubs, this past July, you will see many of those in the pathway system and near where the visitor center will be.

00:15:50 By removing the invasive plant material, in addition of the native plants, this will help to increase the diversity of the forest and keep it healthier for the long term.

00:16:01 These new plantings help to highlight some of the topographical changes in the park, you'll see, whether it's a low area, if it's bright and sunny, we are putting ball cyprus in

00:16:10 and in a shady area, a densely shaded area, we might put some hornbeam in. With this site, we have the lake, the river,

00:16:21 wetlands, and a canal. We have the opportunity to merge and to separate the human artistic ideas from the natural cycles of the environment,

00:16:32 which I think will be coupled with our educational programming, which will focus on specific and spontaneous projects that mix microscopic perspectives with macro-oriented

00:16:43 views, helping people who are not used to be in nature to view it in their own eyes differently than everybody views it

00:16:53 in their own respects. These programs will increase skills of viewing, sensing, and responding to both the artwork and the natural systems of the park.

00:17:05 So, through our commitment to a philosophy of perpetual discovery, we can shed light on the intricacies of how nature and art

00:17:15 are critical to life and to the enjoyment of it. With that, we have decided when we would talk about doing a groundbreaking

00:17:25 that the best thing to do would be actually break the ground and put some trees in it. So, we've got several of the Type A team-building team

00:17:36 who is going to help us plant few of these trees, a couple of native oaks and yellow-wood. So if I could have you guys come up...

00:17:47 we are going to gather up some shovels over here and we will put some of these plants in the ground.

00:19:07 [I am going to refocus this on art for a second because that's my job and I want to tell you that]

00:19:19 Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin of Type A are doing a project with the IMA that is about community building and over the last two years we have been working together

00:19:29 developing a project where they would, essentially, take an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental group of people from the Indianapolis Museum of Art

00:19:40 with the premise that the Indianapolis community starts at our core, all of us are part of Indianapolis. We are all part of the community and what better way to make a commitment to the community

00:19:51 than to make a commitment to our own staff and so what we decided we were going to do was a team building project where the artists were going to create a conceptual project

00:20:01 in real-time in which they actually worked with many people from the staff who normally wouldn't have opportunities to work together

00:20:10 from security, from registration, from conservation, from curatorial, from grounds and the list goes on...

00:20:18 and over the course of the last year they have been working with the team that you see behind me and they have been doing team building exercises.

00:20:28 Adam and Andrew have become certified team builders. I am not going to spoil it by telling you too much more except first of all to say that

00:20:39 this has been a profound life-changing experience, I think, for all of us, to be involved in this park and in this project, in particular. We are learning so much about the way

00:20:49 that art can transform community and the way that we can all be better citizens as a result of it and so

00:21:00 I want to thank everybody who is standing behind me as well as all of you for everything that you do to help make this institution as special as it is.

00:21:10 It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of creativity and all of these people are making it happen. I am going to introduce Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin who are going to tell you, more specifically, about their project.

00:21:21 They have been a gift to the city of Indianapolis. We are so lucky to have them in our amidst.

00:21:24 [Applause]

00:21:35 Hi...I'm Adam Ames. I'm Andrew Bordwin. Thanks very much, Lisa. Thank you. First thing we would like to say is that we are just one of

00:21:45 eight artists invited to take part in this project, this incredibly ambitious project and we are very honored

00:21:55 to be here at this groundbreaking for the 100 acres. Our involvement began about two years ago when Lisa invited us to be a part of this project

00:22:05 and so really one of the largest projects that the IMA has ever undertaken and at that time we had no idea what we were in for.

00:22:14 At that time, we had been working together for about eight years and we used a wide variety of media to, primarily, examine issues of competition

00:22:24 and collaboration from a distinctly male perspective. We have always believed that the concept of the piece determines the medium and not the other way around.

00:22:35 When faced with the choice what to do for this commission, we decided almost immediately that we wanted the core of the project to address issues of how art is made and experienced,

00:22:47 what the role of the art institution is, and can be, and in the end we decided that we would develop a project that connects as directly as possible with the institution itself

00:22:56 and possibly influences its very culture and dynamics. We believe very strongly that experiencing art should be a direct and vital engagement and sense that here we had a rare

00:23:06 opportunity to expand the boundaries of our practice. So we had heard about experiential education, which is more commonly referred to as team building

00:23:17 and often remembered it for its use of ropes courses and we were curious about what it had to offer.

00:23:24 We realized, very quickly, that we had found our medium. Here was a model for taking people out of their offices and out of the conference rooms

00:23:33 and out of their lives to get them talking and debating and possibly connecting with each other in ways not usually available.

00:23:44 So here is the way to get people to actually experience the art and to, in fact, be the art, rather than just talk about it or just pass by it

00:23:53 and we decided that at the core of our project, we would team build members of the Art and Nature Park staff with a stated goal of having them better realize

00:24:02 this very ambitious undertaking and we were very happy, and also very shocked, when Lisa enthusiastically accepted our proposal.

00:24:11 We began to learn about the field of experiential education and we trained in Vermont with an amazing organization called High Five and we are still training with them and still very closely connected with them

00:24:23 and in the course of the past year, we have been meeting with the team of about twenty-five people from all departments of the museum as Lisa had mentioned.

00:24:31 They come from grounds, to retail, to security, to human resources, to finance. Real, incredible cross-section of people

00:24:41 from all walks of this museum.

00:24:45 We played games, we had long discussions about what art means within a community, what the role of the museum is within it, what helps and hinders the experience of art and ultimately what the art and nature park,

00:24:55 what 100 acres means to the IMA, to Indianapolis and to the larger community of art institutions. We are building a large sculpture as part of this commission as well,

00:25:04 but the work that we have been doing with the team is at the core of this project and in many ways the sculptures is now more and more coming out of the work that we are doing together as a team.

00:25:14 It is a profound experience to watch that happen. And while there has been a lot of photographs and video shot during this process as well some pretty extensive blogging and the implementation of a beautiful website,

00:25:25 there is no tangible thing that results from the core of this project. There is nothing you can touch, nothing you can hold, it's not for sale, but the results are tangible

00:25:36 within the group itself. It has no other medium, in fact, than the people who have committed the time and effort to participating fully and honestly

00:25:46 in this process and even the large sculpture that we proposed for the park has been directly influenced by discussions and suggestions made during our time with the team.

00:25:55 So, the IMA has had a crossroads as an institution enjoying its 125th anniversary, it is making a brave and innovative decision about how to reshape its identity to remain vital

00:26:05 and how it needs to evolve in the years to come. It must be said that none of this would be possible without the vision and complete trust of the park's curator and director Lisa Freiman.

00:26:14 We are truly indebted her for giving us this opportunity and just free reign to do what it is that we set out to do.

00:26:25 It's an entirely unique opportunity. This is nothing we have ever experienced before. She is truly an artist's curator and clearly the trust she is accorded us

00:26:35 would not be possible without the unqualified support of Max Anderson, the Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He is truly a curator's director.

00:26:44 Our deepest appreciation to you both. Thank you.

00:26:51 This is truly extraordinary and the IMA is truly an extraordinary institution committed to the process and possibilities in ways we have never encountered.

00:27:00 So, in closing, we would to invite everyone to join us in the group in a simple initiative.

00:27:08 As a group, we have talked about how each department and discipline comes together to shape the larger goals of the IMA. There is an elusive balance and equilibrium point between everyone in a large institution,

00:27:19 such as this, and this initiative is a way for everyone to feel that directly and physically and just wanted to add that that kind of interaction has been

00:27:31 something, once again, that we have never experienced before where we could meet with people, talk with them, and get them into our creative process in such a way

00:27:41 that they become integral. So, we also want to thank our team members, the row behind us, some are missing, but thank you all, thank you all, for being part of this,

00:27:51 for giving your time, giving your energy, and staying with it. So, what we are going to do with this is,

00:28:02 really sort of going to require everyone to move over to that part of the field. This initiative is usually referred to as a Yurt circle.

00:28:11 Yurt is a Mongolian nomadic dwelling which has no joinery, it has no screws, it has no nails, it's easily assembled and easily disassembled and it's held up by its own weight,

00:28:24 by its own structural integrity. And, what we would like to do is, we would like to invite everyone who wants to participate in this to

00:28:34 step over towards the meadow in that general direction, we have a rope set up. We intend for everyone, who wants to, to form a large circle

00:28:44 and take a hold of the rope and we will take it from there.

00:28:48 We will tell you what's going to happen once we get over there. So, if you are interested? And just one last thing before we leave that, I have been given a little bit of a

00:28:59 nod that I should mention the various websites and stuff involved in all of this. We have a website primarily for our project and there is also blogs involved, but also the

00:29:10 whole structure of the park and the process of the park is documented very heavily amongst the IMA's websites and other audiovisual departments.

00:29:22 So, please come on over... and meet us by the Yurt circle.

00:29:30 So, what we would like everyone to do is to reach down and pickup the rope.

00:29:37 Hold it with both hands overhand,

00:29:41 Arms relatively straight, you could have a little bend in them,

00:29:44 locking elbows does help a lot of people, if you want to do that, but have your feet, kind of, shoulder-width. It's not a tug of war, says Lisa. It's true. It's not a tug of war.

00:29:55 So, it's not a scrum.

00:29:57 What we would like everyone to do is to just start very slowly, taking small steps backwards until you get the rope nice and taut, not too taut,

00:30:05 not too taut,

00:30:07 little by little,

00:30:08 hands are, kind of, at your waist and you are feeling fairly relaxed. You will start to feel that

00:30:15 interdependence here.

00:30:18 Now, the goal of this initiative is, at a certain point, and we'll probably count to three and then I will ask everyone to do it, is for everyone to slowly lean back,

00:30:29 not too far but lean back so that your entire weight is supported by the rope

00:30:35 on the count of three. We are going to do this really, really slowly,

00:30:38 and we suggest having your feet comfortably, distance a little close because what you want to do is you are going to want to just lean back straight holding on to the rope

00:30:45 so that you feel fully supported...

00:30:48 [On three or after three?]

00:30:49 It'll be 1, 2, 3 and then you go. After three.

00:30:54 You may need to make little adjustments with your feet, but the idea of this is that there is an equilibrium to be reached between everyone. The idea of this is that you have, I don't know how many people are on this rope right now

00:31:04 but certainly it's over fifty or sixty people that your equilibrium is reached by mutual dependence, it's reached by having your own weight completely depend on the weight of others as well.

00:31:16 So there is going to be that, sort of, sweet spot, that equilibrium that you all reach when you slowly lean back and just kind of trust that this rope is going to hold you up.

00:31:22 If it starts to sway, you can sort of readjust your feet a little bit but you really want to trust it and let that happen because if too many people start readjusting,

00:31:31 making little adjustments, it can get problematic. Suffice it to say that when this is over, we'll know it...

00:31:39 [Laughter]

00:31:42 Hopefully not by everybody falling down, that won't happen. But, you know, we will probably count back and say okay everybody come back up on the count after three, after three

00:31:52 there we are...

00:31:53 after three...

00:31:54 I do not know, instead of counting to three, is there is anything that we can say instead of 1,2,3?

00:32:00 [I,M,A!]

00:32:00 What...? That is a great idea. [Laughter]

00:32:04 Thank you random person from the crowd.

00:32:08 So, it will be I M A and gentle lean back.

00:32:12 [Is everybody ready?]

00:32:14 Ready! Yeah...

00:32:16 I...M...A...

00:32:38 How about we bring you back up now?

00:32:40 I...M...A...

00:32:42 [Cheers and applause]

00:32:50 You guys want to do it again?

00:32:51 [Laughter]

00:32:53 Little more, little...lean back little further, you guys were stable.

00:32:56 You want to try it again?

00:32:58 Yeah...and if anyone does not want to do it again, may be wants to give someone else the shot, that's possible, too.

00:33:05 I...M...A...

00:33:08 [Laughter]