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Tactics Inside and Out: Critical Art Ensemble

"To the Research Labs, Sirs: You may be proud

As peacocks. You've endowed

Us from the start with freedoms that entrap.

We are the red-eyed mice on whom your maze

Is printed. At its heart a little cloud

Thins and dwindles—zap!—

To nothing in one blink of rays.

James Merrill, from The Changing Light at Sandover

“IN THE 1990S, MANY ARTISTS USED the term ‘intervention’ to describe their interdisciplinary approaches. While intervention specifically means to stand between things, or to bridge a situation, in the case of the arts, it points to practices that use the strategies of art to engage a larger public.” So wrote Nato Thompson in his curator’s statement accompanying “The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere,” a show currently on view at Mass MoCA that includes work by such artists and artists’ collectives as the Atlas Group, William Pope.L, the Yes Men, subRosa, and

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