Tsao and McKown Architects conceived, designed, and executed a two-part exhibition for The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) in conjunction with the year-long PAAM100 centennial celebrations.
RE[FRAMING] PROVINCETOWN: PART ONE
Re[Framing] Provincetown: Animating History Through Sharing engages passers-by to focus their thoughts on the character and qualities of public places in the historic village of Provincetown, Massachusetts, by framing their views toward specific sites and simultaneously offering up historic photos or paintings of the same places as food for thought about what may have physically changed and how the qualities and character of the places have changed as a result.
RE[FRAMING] PROVINCETOWN: PART ONE Re[Framing] Provincetown: Animating History Through Sharing engages passers-by to focus their thoughts on the character and qualities of public places in the historic village of Provincetown, Massachusetts, by framing their views toward specific sites and simultaneously offering up historic photos or paintings of the same places as food for thought about what may have physically changed and how the qualities and character of the places have changed as a result.
Re[Framing] Provincetown: Animating History Through Sharing intends to gently provoke residents and the many visitors to Provincetown to be more aware of their built environment. We sought to enhance people’s conscious awareness of the world surrounding them, believing that through improved awareness there will come better understanding about many things in our communities, including the public’s potential to help shape their shared environments, and spur neighborhood and community involvement. The exhibit also seeks to engage individuals and catalyze community sharing of their perceptions and perspectives on Provincetown’s history and on today’s Provincetown (tomorrow’s history).
The Re[Framing] Provincetown installation includes a series of twenty-six diptych frames positioned in strategic locations throughout Provincetown each of which displays an historical photo or painting adjacent to a “live” view framed in the same proportions. By allowing people to connect history and the present, the frames become tools to identify changes both subtle and major between then and now (See a map of all the frame locations here.)
An invitation printed on the reverse sides of the frames (and on leaflets distributed by PAAM throughout Provincetown) asks all interested individuals to please submit their stories, memories, photographs (old and new), postcards and notes about Provincetown as contributions toward a second part of the project, an exhibition to be held at the Museum.
RE[FRAMING] PROVINCETOWN: PART TWO
The second part is within the museum’s historic Hofmann Gallery. There are three main elements:
A “living room” which provides a setting for watching three short documentaries about a fascinating slice of the 1950’s Provincetown art scene – when artists such as Red Grooms, Tony Vevers, and Alex Katz were just starting out. There, visitors can also peruse photobooks which chronicle the development of Provincetown’s art culture, and books that trace the development of the town’s unique built environment.
The second area is a large communal table where visitors can browse copies of eleven historic Provincetown scrapbooks and are invited to make their own contributions to new scrapbooks with their photos (historic and present day) and with their stories, anecdotes, and mementos.
The final component is a small recording booth where people are encouraged to record their Provincetown memories, observations, and prognostications.
By sharing and recording their personal recollections and views, every visitor to the gallery becomes a citizen historian. By fleshing out details of current and past happenings in this place, visitors will help to shape how the community of Provincetown sees itself today and tomorrow. All the writings, images, and recordings collected at the exhibition will be added to PAAM’s permanent collection. Ultimately, what people share in the exhibit will help to shape how the future will know Provincetown.
AN UNUSUAL MOMENT OF REFLECTION AND MEMORY ABOUT PROVINCETOWN
As an outdoor and “interactive” installation, Re[Framing] Provincetown: Animating History Through Sharing may be the most visible, but it is only one of four unrelated but complimentary exhibits and books about current and historic observation of Provincetown’s public places and buildings that are happening almost simultaneously. This cannot have come about purely by coincidence. Perhaps there are some answers in the individual projects themselves:
The first of the three others is an exhibit currently on view at PAAM by the prominent local curator, Jim Bakker. Through October 26 Provincetown in Print, Painting, and Photography deals with the “historicity” of art and focuses on the connections between the literal and artistic interpretations of public places in Provincetown by presenting multiple views by different artists of the same locations.
Second, David Dunlap, a New York Times writer, is coming out with a book later this year entitled Building Provincetown. He presents a history of Provincetown as a mosaic comprised of the stories and images of nearly all the town’s buildings. Based on extensive interviews with the owners and current residents Dunlap shows us Provincetown’s rich social and cultural history up to the present day through the lens of the town’s built environment. This remarkable book doubles as a photographic architectural guide arranged street by street, in alphabetical order.
And finally a book has just been published entitled Provincetown Through Time by Frank Muzzy, which presents vintage and current photos of various buildings and places around Provincetown. The author’s investigations and the intent of Tsao & McKown’s Re[Framing] Provincetown, as well as the concerns and timing of all four of these books and exhibits, are remarkably parallel.
Using #REFRAMINGPTOWN, Instagram users uploaded the following images as they enjoyed the installation: