Hold hands with a stranger

Amanda Lovelee’s Call and Answer Project was an epic success at Northern Spark.

Call and Answer at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Northern Spark, June 4, 2011. Photo courtesy the artist.

According to Amanda,

“We reached all our goals and went far beyond. In one evening we served over 400 pieces of pie in two hours, printed 2000 books, had close to 50 amazing volunteers who did everything from bake pie, photograph, cut pie, make coffee, run a letter press, greet people at the door, read their poetry,  play in the band, and call a square dance!  I think about 1,500 people came through the doors of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and at least 500 strangers held hands!!!!”

Amanda is going for it again.

The Call and Answer Project will be coordinating the largest square dance in the Twin Cities as part of the Walker Art Center’s Free First Saturday from 12-3pm on Saturday September 3rd. The day’s events will include a photo booth where if you pose for a photograph holding hands with a stranger you will receive one of the four books from the collector set of handmade letter pressed books that Lovelee designed about life lessons learned through square dancing. Each book was printed by volunteers as part of Northern Spark and folded by another volunteer. There will a space for both kids and anyone who wants to add a drawing to a very long and large accordion book of utopic objects. It will be the premier of Call and Answer, a short documentary about human connection and Minneapolis’s Monday Night Square Dance. The movie will be playing on a loop inside the Walker. Most importantly from 1pm-3pm there will be a live band playing and square dancing! Local caller Ann Carter will be teaching you everything you need to know.

Amanda Lovelee, Call and Answer Project, MCBA, Northern Spark, June 4, 2011

For more information please go to – http://callandanswer.wordpress.com/ or

At last, a book on site-specific dance!

For all the intriguing site-specific dance performances, projects, and public explorations in recent history (Don’t you feel it too?, The BodyCartography Project, Catalyst Dance, the 2008 performance of Merce Cunningham’s Ocean, just to name a few Minnesota gems), i have often wondered why there weren’t any books on the subject.  I don’t have an answer to that question, but I have found a solution:

Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces, edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik (University Press of Florida, 2009)

As the first anthology to specifically examine dance in non-traditional performance spaces, this title explores the work that choreographers create for alternative sites and examines the basis for their creative choices. Editors Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik (professors of dance at the University of Calgary and Western Michigan University, respectively) offer a combination of interviews with and essays by some of the most prominent and influential practitioners of site-specific dance, such as Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood, Stephan Koplowitz, Heidi Duckler, Ann Carlson, Eiko Otake, and Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad of the BodyCartography Project. Site Dance is a significant and timely contribution to the public art canon–a must-read for dancers, choreographers, audiences, and public art administrators alike!

Antoni Muntadas

One of my favorite moments of the day is perusing the Art Daily emails that come my way. Every once in a while, hidden between the announcements of who’s doing what job where and what is currently selling at Christie’s (and at what price!) you can spot an interesting public art project or artists. Today it was Antoni Muntadas

I was not familiar with his work but I quickly realized I should be. A quick google search brought up The File Room project.

The File Room is a seemingly never ending space addressing free speech and censorship internationally and throughout history. The physical installation has popped up here and there but it is the incredibly interesting online archive that sucked me in!

The piece is an archive of projects that have been censored. You can search by location, date, medium, and reason for censorship.

I was initially struck by the dance category and was surprised by the forms of dance that caused political upheaval including Capoeira and The Fandango. Both unique forms of public expression. The degree to which the movement stirs up emotions and energy explains their inclusion on the list.

The controversy surrounding rave accessories is an ironic circumstance. A pacifier as a symbol for a drug culture seems strangely appropriate.

Of course I had to check out the Public Art section. A comprehensive listing of murals, posters, and art projects staking claim in public spaces voicing ideas and opinions. Who knew the kind of trouble one could get into
posting images of Iraqi Citzens. And the ever popular naked being pops up a few times, from Greek Statue that offended homeschoolers to the partially exposed breast depicted in a painting ( I wonder if it was the breast or the fact that she was breastfeeding in public that caused the stir?!? ). Does anyone else find it strange that this type of issue is right on par with the “door knob in the men’s room”?

I even happened upon a mural by an artist once involved in a local art fair I coordinated. I guess it makes sense since she had some work even then that had to stay in the car for “special viewings”. I especially like the reason this piece was censored – not sure how that all went down.

The file room is a great example of a project that will never go away because the issue it addresses will never go away. One of the exciting conundrums of our society and our ever growing global community is facing struggle between freedom of expression and other’s freedom to not be offended.

Even the internet itself is in question!