MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish remarks, “a true state of wonder agitates, mesmerizes, and is almost forcible and shocking. It is a sudden intake of breath, a gaping mouth, a relinquishing of understanding.” As commonly used, “wonder” is sometimes mistaken for curiosity, which centers on the practice of fact-finding and explanation. In Explode Every Day: An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder, viewers experience a purer state of wonder, a state of being poised between knowing and not knowing, and defined by an experience of something truly new.
Harnessing the idea of wonder as a thematic metaphor, the exhibition features both existing and new works by twenty-three international artists, each touching on certain facets of wonder, including: the perceptual/ visionary, the technological/scientific, the philosophical/meditative, time/cosmos, and illusion/fear.
Co-organized by Markonish and Columbus, Ohio-based artist Sean Foley, Explode Every Day was inspired by a course that Foley taught at Ohio State University and a long-running conversation between the co-curators. The title for the exhibition was inspired by the writer Ray Bradbury, who often spoke of the need to retain a sense of wonder: You remain invested in your inner child by exploding every day. You don’t worry about the future, you don’t worry about the past—you just explode. Artists included in the exhibition are Jonathan Allen, Jen Bervin, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, Jason de Haan, Tristan Duke, Sharon Ellis, Tom Friedman, Christopher Gausby, Hope Ginsburg, Laurent Grasso, Pierre Huyghe, The Institute For Figuring, Nina Katchadourian, Michael Light, Charles Lindsay, Megan and Murray McMillan, Ryan and Trevor Oakes, Demetrius Oliver, Dario Robleto, Rachel Sussman, Julianne Swartz, Chris Taylor, and Fred Tomaselli.
About the Catalog
Accompanying the exhibition will be a comprehensive catalog that will, for the first time, gather contributors from diverse fields to investigate this elusive topic and unite them through contemporary art. The book will consist of essays on the history of wonder; wonder and psychology; and literature, science, and unusual natural and paranormal phenomena; as well as in-depth artist interviews and special artist projects. Contributors to the catalogue include: Lawrence Weschler (author of creative nonfiction), Kay Redfield Jamison (clinical psychologist and author), Maria Popova (writer and blogger at brainpickings.org), Barbara Maria Stafford (art historian), Jill Tarter (astronomer and former director of the Center for SETI Research), Robin Ince (comedian and co-host of BBC radio’s The Infinite Monkey Cage), Stefan Sagmeister (graphic designer), Mary Ruefle (poet), Sam Green (filmmaker of The Measure of All Things), Steve Holmes (curator), and the exhibition curators. The catalog will be edited by Markonish and co-published by Prestel.
Funding is generously provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist’s Resource Trust of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Debbie Landau.