The Great Bird Blind Debate inaugurates Catalyst at Planting Fields, inviting artists to produce work in dialogue with the site in a transhistorical approach. The program aims to preserve the spirit of the place by continuing a legacy of artistic patronage the Coes established at Planting Fields over a century ago. In many ways this place is defined by a commitment to preservation, but we equally seek to establish a sense of vitality that makes Planting Fields meaningful to the evolving world in which we live. Preservation alone is not enough, because it is an affirmation of the past. By engaging artists, our relationships with historic sites and the histories they contain are destabilized and expanded.
The program launched in 2020 with The Great Bird Blind Debate by artists David Brooks and Mark Dion, located in the Carl F. Wedell bird sanctuary. The exhibition represents the first time in Planting Fields history that site-specific work by living artists has been commissioned for landscape. Planting Fields Foundation has acquired for its collection the artists’ preliminary sketches and studies which are on view in the exhibition galleries in Coe Hall. The exhibition will be open to the public until fall 2021, with guided tours of the indoor galleries and the outdoor installations offered daily.