If I can’t dance . . .

All promo videos for an exhibition should be this entertaining!

Opening August 11, “The Walker presents the latest phase and first US exhibition of Baby Marx, an ongoing project by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes that looks at the potential for mass entertainment to operate as a radical educational tool.”

At the end of the video, above the subtitle Romance, it appears that Che Guevara is hitting on a school teacher/librarian, who is the only woman who appears in the trailer. I wonder if the exhibition will include female theoreticians and activists?

Readings, storytelling, and lullabies at Northern Spark

Storytelling is a time-honored way to ward off the evil spirits at night – or just plain drowsiness. Laurie Hertzel has a nice blog post in On Books about the Bedtime Stories project, which is organized by the Rain Taxi Review of Books as part of the Walker Art Center’s Nightshift program for Northern Spark.

There are many other opportunities for storytelling at Northern Spark.

Piotr Szyhalski, Empty Words (so that we can do our living)

Piotr Szyhalski’s 9-hour performance is a participatory reading of John Cage’s “Empty Words” and is part of an ongoing series of works that examine the poetics and, particularly, the rhetoric of language. Empty Words attempts to “demilitarize language, by awakening its natural poetry and making it impossible for people to control one another through rhetoric. Hopefully some state government officials will be in attendance, but in any case come to Father Hennepin Bluffs Park on the east side of the Stone Arch Bridge and add your voice.

Skewed Visions, Please Remain Seated

Skewed Visions takes their storytelling on the free buses that will transport people from venue to venue in and between Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Sorry, no napping on the buses.

All My Relations Arts, Community Conversation

Hopefully no one will be sleep already at 5:30 pm – although this is Minnesota, so you never know for sure – but there will be a stimulating conversation between Rigo 23, Tom Poor Bear, Mona Smith, Bobby Wilson, Robert Two Bulls and Heid Erdrich about Rigo’s Oglala Oyate: Sister City for a Better Future, an 8-hour video, which he shot on the Pine Ridge Reservation last year.

Red76, Follow the Light, Let the Light be Your Guide.

On the steps of the Saint Paul Central Library, Red76 encourages you to bring a radical prophetic text, preferably of regional vintage, to declaim into the night. As more and more visions of the future are spoken aloud and shared, the darkened facade of the library will light, till there is a new dawn in the morning. At 5:28 am.

Works Progress, Mississippi Megalops – A Floating Chautauqua

While the free tickets are almost sold out for this river adventure orchestrated by Works Progress and Andy Sturdevant, there may be some left for the 5 am trip – the best time, in my opinion. Sparkling performances, illustrated presentations and other works of artistic and scientific expression will be presented aboard the Jonathan Padelford sternwheeler as it makes its way down the Mississippi River, illuminating the shores of Saint Paul. Featuring creative contributions from over a dozen artists, scientists and storytellers, who together will transform a common riverboat into a floating Chautauqua, a rollicking experience that will enrich the mind and delight the senses!

Springboard for the Arts, Two Story Love Story

Springboard presents a program of dialogue between staff, in their offices on the 2nd floor above Prince St., and visitors, on
street below.

Marcus Young and Grace Minnesota, The Lullaby Experiment

Ok, so you still can’t quite stay awake. Come back to the Walker and let Marcus Young and Grace Minnesota sing you gently to sleep.

A Machine to See With is coming to Minneapolis this week

Blast Theory’s A Machine to See With is coming to Minneapolis April 15-19, 2011. Buy your tickets now. The experience begins at an appointed location at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis. Allow 60–75 minutes. It’s worth it.

Blast Theory, A Machine to See With

Blast Theory is a UK-based artist group (led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj) who use performance, gaming, and interactive media to create participatory experiences that explore the social and political aspects of technology. One of their better-known works is Ulrike and Eamon Compliant, which premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and invited participants to take on the persona of Ulrike Meinhof or Eamon Collins as they walked through the city directed by calls to their cell phone.

Blast Theory, Ulrike and Eamon Compliant.

While less political in its premise, A Machine to See With is similar in that it’s a cell phone led experience that takes place outside on city streets. I experienced the work when it premiered in San Jose, CA at the 01SJ Biennial last September and was able to observe and participate throughout the concept and testing phases of development. I hesitate to reveal too many specific details about the work because I want to avoid spoilers. This is an artwork that you must experience yourself.

As opposed to a site-specific work that is crafted for one particular geographic location, A Machine to See With (AMTSW) is better classified as a site dependent work. The premise of the work is the same from city to city, but the work isn’t explicitly about responding to a particular location—the narrative is a stencil overlaying a place and the artists are location scouts who scour an area to unearth the characteristics and spaces that support their narrative to the desired effect.

According to Nick Tandavanitj, the artists feel a sense of jeopardy each time they stage the piece because the work is so dependent on geographical details and physical properties of a place. When the artists arrived in San Jose (a city they had never visited—all scouting was done via Google Earth) they knew the narrative would center around a bank, but were still determining how the work would resolve. In Park City, Utah they had to scale the experience to a smaller city and make accommodations for the snow and harsh weather. In Minneapolis (which they did visit in advance), Blast Theory looked at three different locations to serve as the anchor point of the work, and admit that they could have rewritten AMTSW as a different experience at each of the three locations.

The work relies on maintaining an air of intrigue and anonymity to what is going on. Playing yourself, you are challenged to imagine the previously unimaginable and question what and who is behind every corner. Blast Theory clearly designs the work to allow spaces for people to craft their own experience. When I participated, it was left up to me to decide when and how to follow the instructions delivered to my own personal cell phone and at times the work reminded me of the “choose your own adventure” stories I used to love as a child.

Blast Theory, A Machine to See With. Still from San Jose.

Blast Theory is highly adept at blurring genres and mediums. AMTSW connects to urban gaming in that it enables interaction, but the work does not have the structure or clearly outlined goals of a game. In the context of a film festival like Sundance, the work takes on a cinematic element where the city is cast as set and participants as live actors in a reality-based action thriller.

In the end, I left feeling like the work was about taking a risk—not knowing who is playing along, but following directions anyway. As impersonal as the mechanism of phone calls seems to be, AMTSW crafts a finishing point that becomes a starting point to a moment of real personal connection with someone.

A Machine To See With is a Locative Cinema Commission from ZER01 for the 01SJ Biennial, the New Frontier Initiative at Sundance, and the Banff New Media Institute. It is being presented in Minneapolis as part of the Walker Art Center‘s Expanding the Rules of Engagement with Artists and Audiences initiative.

How to Build a Voice Box I: Dunce Caps into Megaphones

Join Futurefarmers on Saturday, August 7, for part of their residency “A People without a Voice Cannot Be Hear.”

Futurefarmers, A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Small paper megaphones will be made by the general public. Posters will be printed with a template for the megaphone form and a space for people to write a statement they wish to shout or whisper.

Alongside the public making workshop, Futurefarmers + core group will be building a large, mobile multiple person megaphone.


And come to the 01SJ Biennial in September for more Futurefarmers’ Sunshine Still / Speak Hard.

Calling all builders, tinkerers, sound artists, collaboratives, inventors, electronic hackers, artists

Futurefarmers wants you!!

Deadline for Submissions: June 25th, 2010
When: Aug. 18, 2010 Noon – 5pm; Aug. 19, 2010 3 pm – 8pm
Where: Walker Art Center, Flatpak House
What: A two-day workshop with a core group of
art and design students building “Voice Boxes”.
Who: An amazing group of artists working with Futurefarmers on A People without a Voice Cannot Be Heard

Within the context of the Walker’s summer program, Open Field, which encompasses issues around “the commons,” Futurefarmers will be programming several events around theme of “voice” as a commons. We are looking for Minneapolis-based artists/builders to lead this workshop. We are leaving “voice box” open to interpretation. The first day will be a more intensive building workshop with a core group of design students (max 15) and the second day will be open to the public. This is a free Thursday at the Walker, so there is heavy foot traffic with many kids and people who would love to build or contribute something, so preparing some simple aspect of participation for this day is key.

More information: www.futurefarmers.com/buildingavoicebox; www.walker.org/openfield
Commission: $500

Please send

  • Name
  • Address
  • website
  • email
  • 250 word description of workshop
  • rough schedule of the two days: noon-5pm
  • link(s) to any previous work or 5 jpgs 72 dpi of related work

To: info@futurefarmers.com

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.

A serious question

Auctioneer wanted. RT #WalkerArtCenter

Auctioneer wanted. RT #WalkerArtCenter

Northern Lights is working with the Walker Art Center on an artist project this summer, and we’re looking for an auctioneer to work with us.