FSC-Harvard Fellow Valery Lyman Returns to the Waterworks Museum with Breaking Ground

Documentation of the Installation Breaking Ground

The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, the nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Boston’s industrial and engineering legacy, is again remounting Valery Lyman’s documentary work Breaking Ground: An Immersive Meditation on the Oilfields of North Dakota on the evenings of March 28-29 and April 5-7, 2018, at 7pm.

Drawn from four years of close observation, documentary artist Valery Lyman exposes the cycles of opportunity and destruction in the Bakken oil shale region. From the oil rigs to the strip clubs, Lyman’s richly textured anthropological account looks unflinchingly at the industry and the American migrant workers at the heart of a global phenomenon. The boomtowns of the past, built on the backs of miners and loggers of the 19th century, give way to the new boomtowns, filled with the technology and big dreams of the 21st century. While the infrastructure of extraction has changed, the themes of optimism, hard labor, risk, and loneliness are a constant over more than 200 years of living the American experience.

The visual and audio collage planned for the Waterworks Museum will provide a unique, historical setting for exploring that question. Using the raw surfaces of steel, iron, and brick, Lyman’s images will be projected on to the towering 19th century engines and archways of the Museum, accompanied by the sounds and voices of the North Dakota communities embedded in an unforgiving, industrial landscape. This 20-channel installation invites the viewer to wander and explore this world for themselves.

This spring, the immersive installation will be on view from 7pm to 10pm over five nights. The event is open to the public. Special event admission is $12 per person. Discounted $10 tickets will also be available at the Museum door for students, seniors, and Waterworks members.


The Museum is located at 2450 Beacon Street, Boston, in the Cleveland Circle neighborhood at the end of the Green Line. Ride sharing accessible. Parking is limited. For more information, please contact the Waterworks at (617) 277-0065, by email at info@waterworksmuseum.org, or via the website at www.WaterworksMuseum.org.

Valery Lyman