Rare chance to see Phoenix at Night as giant sculpture takes wing from Mass MoCA

Above: Xu Bing: Phoenix as Berkshire on Stage tries to imagine what a night viewing might look like.

Above: Xu Bing: Phoenix as Berkshire on Stage tries to imagine what a night viewing might look like.

Since last December, Xu Bing’s Phoenix – a super-sized winged sculpture of two fantastical dragon birds – has been flying over Mass MoCA’s football-field sized Building 5. As much a statement about the possibilities of recycling old materials as it is about the fantastic aspects of Chinese culture, it has been one of the best received installations in that airplane hanger sized space, and yet something has been missing.

The spectacular sculpture is internally lit by thousands of LED lights, and appears as a breath-taking constellation in the darkened museum gallery. But it has not been open to the public at night. I was lucky enough to glimpse it one evening at dusk and it revealed a new dimension. The night before the exhibit is to close, we will finally be able to see “Phoenix after dark” in all its glory, but only on Saturday, October 26 at 9:30pm.

The exhibition is in its final days and on view only through Sunday, October 27. In fact, you can see the packing boxes the monster sculpture arrived in carefully lining the entrance to the exhibit itself, along with other creations that amplify the incredible imagination of Xu Bing. MASS MoCA celebrates the final weekend of his majestic exhibition. In addition to seeing the nighttime version of the two birds that are part of Xu Bing: Phoenix, there are other special events including contemporary Chinese dance, family programming, and the only public, after-dark viewing of the birds illuminated. Galleries are open 11am to 7pm on Saturday, October 26, and will re-open at 9:30pm. On Sunday, October 27, the galleries are open from 11am to 5pm.

The immensity of the installation is difficult to capture in one shot. Photo by Grier Horner.

The immensity of the installation is difficult to capture in one shot. Photo by Grier Horner.

Above: In commenting on his picture, photographer and artist Grier Horner writes: “Xu Bing’s big birds at MASS MoCA are magnificent, a startling conversion of construction material and debris into two giant phoenixes which cost a fortune to fabricate and were almost grounded before ever taking flight.”

Costume Parade of mythical creatures for the children

Family Art Quest encourages children to visit the museum dressed as their favorite mythical creature for a costume parade and museum-wide scavenger hunt on Saturday, October 26, at 1pm. Art activities and snacks follow the hunt. Family Art Quest is free for member children and $7 for not-yet-members.

Contemporary Dance by Shen Wei Dance Arts

In partnership with Jacob’s Pillow Dance, contemporary dance ensemble Shen Wei Dance Arts performs two shows: October 26 at 8pm and October 27 at 3pm. (The Berkshire on Stage full story with film clip is here) Led by Chinese-born American choreographer Shen Wei, the program includes Wei’s interpretation of Rite of Spring (2003), in honor of the original production’s 100th year. A striking new work, Collective Measures (2013), completes the program. Tickets range from $18 to $39.

The Phoenix night-viewing is $15 for general admission and free to MASS MoCA members, Shen Wei ticket-holders, and museum visitors with a receipt from their Saturday, October 26, visit to the galleries. A full cash bar will be available.

Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located on Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11am until 5pm (every day except Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during box office hours or purchased online at www.massmoca.org.

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