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ICA announces first artist in East Boston satellite location

A former East Boston copper pipe shop (seen in March) is being transformed into a satellite location by the Institute of Contemporary Art.
A former East Boston copper pipe shop (seen in March) is being transformed into a satellite location by the Institute of Contemporary Art.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/file

The Institute of Contemporary Art has selected the first artist to be featured at the museum’s newly acquired building, a large, industrial space across the harbor in East Boston.

After years of expansion efforts, the ICA announced last March that it planned to open a satellite location, dubbed “Watershed,” in the dilapidated space once occupied by a copper pipe shop. Due to open next summer, the project, which cost an estimated $10 million, will give the museum 15,000 square feet of previously-untapped space.

“The Watershed takes art beyond our museum walls, and builds upon a decade-long history of public art projects that bring together landscape, history and contemporary art,” Jill Medvedow, the Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA, wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.


Diana Thater, a California-based artist who works in video, film, and installation art, will be the first artist featured in the space. Her artwork “Delphine,” a series of underwater videos of dolphins that’ll be projected onto the space’s walls and ceiling, will be the focus of the Watershed’s inaugural exhibit.

“Together with Barbara Lee Chief Curator, Eva Respini, we selected Diana Thater for the inaugural installation because her focus on the fragility of the natural world seemed a perfect fit for this new waterfront location and because we’ve seen her ability to transform unconventional spaces through her strategies of intensified color and visually stunning moving images,” Medvedow wrote.

There will also be a cube of nine video monitors that together form an image of the sun, as well as a sculptural video installation called “A Runaway World” that was produced in Kenya.

The Watershed facility’s renovation designs were done by Anmahian Winton Architects, a Cambridge-based firm.

“Boston doesn’t currently have raw, industrial space for large scale art and projects,” Medvedow wrote, “so this represents an exciting opportunity for artists and audiences to experience immersive art, harbor travel and for many, discover the vibrant history and community of East Boston.”


The museum plans to have water-taxi service to ferry guests between the ICA and the Watershed, the logistics of which are still being worked out. The Watershed will have free admission.

Kaitlyn Locke can be reached at kaitlyn.locke@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ke_locke.