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

Machine Project Summer Jubilee

LA-based Machine Project is coming to the Walker Open Field. You don’t need to choose between Tragedy on the Sea Nymph: An Operetta in Three Acts Starring an All-Dog Cast, Car Theft for Kids, the Apple II Beeptacular Spectacular or Mowing the Field – with bells on. It’s all happening during the Machine Project Summer Jubiliee July 19-29. Check out the line up and don’t miss at least 7 of the projects by this remarkable group during this limited engagement of limitless engagement.


Auctions speak louder than words

Futurefarmers, Auctions speak Louder than words on Vimeo.

On Saturday (September 4), Futurefarmers will present (perform) Auctions Speak Louder Than Words, the culminating event of their month-long residency A People Without a Voice Cannot Be Heard. Bring your stories – and 3 objects.

Here is how it works:

Objects on Blankets

11 am–1 pm
Futurefarmers invite us to consider what our possessions say about us in this unusual auction. Bring a blanket and three objects from home and spread out on the Field prepared to share a story with others. Throughout the morning, Futurefarmers will collect these stories as special “vocal” guests roam the field.

Auction and Drawing

1–2 pm
An auction commences where you may be invited to have professional auctioneers Glen and Dale Fladeboe auction one of your objects by retelling your story in their own inimitable voice. Futurefarmers will be making interpretive drawings of the selected auctioned objects and the owner of the object can choose which to keep—drawing or object—and which one is awarded to the winning bidder.

Ecosomatics on the Open Field

 Olive Bieringa Gulf Oil meditation SEEDS|Earthdance

Olive Bieringa Gulf Oil meditation SEEDS|Earthdance. photo: Brune Castos

The BodyCartography Project will present a week-long collaborative classroom on “ecosomatics” in the Flat Pak House as part of Walker Art Center’s Open Field programming.

“This collaborative classroom will function to implicate our very cells/selves in how we interact with and understand the environment. It will create the conditions for a new model of transdisciplinary learning across systems and as a result imagine alternate futures in relationship to the issue of sustainability through behavioral re-patterning.

“We will begin each day with a simple movement practice to open up our awareness to ourselves, the group and our environment. A local scientist will facilitate daily sessions with different environmental foci.  Together we will pursue somatic research as a first person embodied science, utilizing ones own body as a tool for understanding emergent properties of whole systems, developing empathy and rewilding ourselves and those around us.

“The week will be facilitated by Olive Bieringa with scientists John Schade (Ecosystem Ecologist  St. Olaf College, Biology and Environmental Studies), Bonnie Ploger (Behavioral Ecologist, Department of Biology & Artist in Residence, Center for Global Environmental Education, Hamline University Environmental Education, Hamline University), Ben Jordan  (Biologist, Harvard University) and Bryce Beverlin II (Biophysicist, University of Minnesota Physics Department).”–BodyCartography Project.

ecosomatics schedule
What is ecosomatics?

Call for workshop leader for Futurefarmers project

Futurefarmers, call for workshop proposals.

Futurefarmers, call for workshop proposals. A two-day workshop with a core group of art and design students building “Voice Boxes”. The core group will be able to bring materials and supplies if you organize with them beforehand.

This project is part of A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, a month-long project by Futurefarmers co-commissioned and co-presented by Northern Lights.mn and the Walker Art Center for the Walker’s Open Field initiative this summer.

A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Futurefarmers, A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Futurefarmers, A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, co-presented by Northern Lights.mn and Walker Art Center, August 2010

Futurefarmers’ A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard is part of the Walker’s summer “Open Field” programming about the cultural commons.

Three Futurefarmers (Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, and Dan Allende, a new farmer who worked as an intern on the Reverse Ark project in Baltimore) came to Minneapolis to prep for their summer project A People Without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, which is being co-curated and co-presented by Northern Lights.mn and the Walker Art Center. Northern Lights artistic director Steve Dietz sat down with Amy and Michael to discuss their upcoming project after three days of meetings with Walker staff, local artists, and potential community collaborators.

Steve Dietz – Amy and Michael, on your website (http://futurefarmers.com/), you write “Futurefarmers is a group of practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding us.” What do you mean by that?

Futurefarmers – (laugh) Futurefarmers was founded in 1995, and at first we had a design studio that we worked out of, but really our primary interest is in creating platforms for sociability. At some point, we stopped paying rent on the studio and began working on a project basis with a dynamic group of collaborators creating mostly temporary work particular to a specific site or situation. For example, A People Without a Voice Cannot Be Heard, is our response to the Walker’s summer theme of the cultural commons. For the month of August, we, along with a core group of local collaborators will explore together the idea of voice through workshops, lectures, outings, film programs, and public events.

SD – Curiosity seems to be a primary motivation and exploration a key component of Futurefarmer’s “m o,” as with projects like Reverse Ark at the Baltimore Contemporary Art Museum or the Free Soil Bus Tour at the 01SJ Biennial in San Jose.

Futurefarmers, Free Soil Bus Tour 2, 01SJ Biennial, 2008

Futurefarmers, Free Soil Bus Tour 2, 01SJ Biennial, 2008

FF – Yes, we often start with a topic that we’re interested in such as sustainability or radical education, and our project methodology is to search out experts and people with hands on experience and to explore the topic from a range of perspectives over a period of time with a core group of collaborators. We don’t know precisely what the end will be when we begin, but we are makers, and it always involves making something along with studying film and literature and lots and lots of informal conversation.

SD – For Open Field at the Walker you are exploring the topic of voice. What prompted that?

FF – Our normal practice is not to respond to specific themes, but we’re interested in working in interesting situations and the opportunity to work with the Walker and Northern Lights in the context of the Open Field initiative was very exciting. We first thought about voice because we’d heard that singing reduces stress, which seemed like a good thing, even though neither of us has a music background nor can be described as a singer. In relation to the commons, however, if you think about singer-songwriters like Woody Guthrie or Chuck D of Public Enemy, there is an obvious connection, and we like working in new territory, so to speak. We then visited a local girls’ choir rehearsal on our first visit to the Twin Cities, and their common voice had an almost physical presence, which was very inspiring on many levels. We hope they can be involved in a kind of choral derive of the city during our residency. We’ll also explore other ideas about and uses of the voice from Inuit throat singing to auctioneers to a film about song metering prison labor to the printing press and megaphones as amplifiers of the people’s voice.

SD – “This field is your field.”

FF – Sort of. We’re very interested in the relation of the institution to the general public, and the open field next to the Walker is perfect as both a literal and metaphorical site for exchange. At one point we thought of creating a kind of Trojan Horse, which would cache people’s unheard ideas and voice them into sites of authority, whether the museum or city hall. In a sense, what is left of that initial idea is just the voice box. How can we construct multiple ways for people’s voices to be heard in a common space? Of course, we don’t know the answer at this point, but we’re interested in a story from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where he asks the question what would it be like if people could only speak through and with objects. On the first Saturday in September, we will invite people to bring a blanket and their objects to the Walker’s open field, and we’ll see what happens. Maybe there will be an auction, maybe there won’t, but we like the idea of the field being dotted with hundreds of blankets, each of which has a story to tell.

SD – How can people get involved in A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard?

Futurefarmers, workshops for A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Futurefarmers, workshops for A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

FF – Lots of ways. We will be collaborating with a group of local artists on the project, and the FlatPak house in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be our headquarters. The public is welcome to stop by anytime. We will be programming workshops, lectures, film screenings, walks and other happenings throughout the month of August, particularly on Thursday evenings. Many of these events are open to the public. They are all listed at http://www.futurefarmers.com/buildingavoicebox/schedule.html for more information.

SD – Thanks Amy and Michael. I can’t wait to hear – and see – your voices at work this summer.