On Symptoms of Cultural Industry

Cities around the world function today in the shadow of industrial infrastructure, factories that originally contributed to the economic well-being of a region. On Symptoms of Cultural Industry considers these circumstances to investigate the role of artistic and cultural production today in relation to the economic, social and physical situations in North Adams, Massachusetts—home to MASS MoCA.


James Voorhies with Timothy Nazzaro, Nate Padavick, Rachel Sherk, Cassandra Troyan

MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
July 17–31, 2011

Open Engagement, Portland, OR
May 11–15, 2011

Curated by James Voorhies

Made possible with a grant from Massachusetts Cultural Council and support from Open Engagement/Portland State University and MASS MoCA

Through performance, video, installation and photography produced by Bureau for Open Culture in collaboration with a number of individuals, On Symptoms of Cultural Industry studies the landscape of a former factory region to consider the material and social impact of changes in manufacturing from the impact globalization. While circumstances have evolved slowly and differently in cities over the course of the past five decades, they have accelerated with particular intensity in recent years. The conditions are, in part, the result of transitions from manufacturing goods to manufacturing culture and knowledge. The research for On Symptoms of Cultural Industry is procured from original archives and interviews with individuals who worked in the Sprague Electric Company, now the site of MASS MoCA. The information about a previous industrial era in North Adams is juxtaposed with a consideration of the kind of production and labor associated with experience and event economies, the industrial art and culture complex upon which North Adams and many other cities rely.

Flickr photostream MASS MoCA venue

Flickr photostream Open Engagement venue