Blogs Centerpoints Behind the 8-Ball

Behind the 8-Ball: Emily Johnson

In anticipation of this year’s edition of Choreographers’ Evening on Nov. 24 (7 and 9:30 pm), we asked this year’s curator, choreographer Emily Johnson, to answer eight questions for our 8-Ball feature in the Walker magazine. She graciously answered far more, so in the spirit of the infrequent “Behind the 8-Ball” blog feature, here’s eight […]

picture-3.pngIn anticipation of this year’s edition of Choreographers’ Evening on Nov. 24 (7 and 9:30 pm), we asked this year’s curator, choreographer Emily Johnson, to answer eight questions for our 8-Ball feature in the Walker magazine. She graciously answered far more, so in the spirit of the infrequent “Behind the 8-Ball” blog feature, here’s eight more.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Years ago. Erin Thompson’s class here in Minneapolis, Mathew Janczweski, and a hole in my dance pants I had forgotton about.

What global issue most excites or angers you?

The human capacity for destruction is pretty disheartening… but watching the earth try to balance itself is impelling and seeing people make things out of nothing is, for me, the most exciting thing in the world.

Which creative talent would you most like to have?

I wish I knew Yup’ik dancing. And I wish I could sing. And I wish I could do back-flips.

If you could throw a dinner party for anyone in the world, who would you invite?

I wouldn’t want to throw it, but I’d love to attend The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. I’d ask Angie Vo to design my dress…

What’s your favorite recording of all time?

Song? In the Stars by JG Everest.

Album? Ether Teeth by Fog.

What is your advice for young people today?

Don’t have sex. Ha Ha. How stupid is that?

What’s your most vivid Minneapolis memory?

On the bank of the Mississippi, down by the U of M hospital, before it became a parking lot. I was laying on the grass looking at the skyline of downtown, and the buildings got really huge — they inflated like columns of clouds and it felt like they were enveloping me, protecting me in a way. Weird, I know, and I wasn’t even on anything.

I knew I would stay in Minneapolis a while to see what it meant.

Name one surprising aspect of your morning ritual.

I’m surprised my coffee isn’t delivered to me in bed every morning.

Behind the 8-ball: Jon Langford

One of the more eclectic personalities to visit the Walker in awhile, Jon Langford in a punk rocker (The Mekons), country music fan (Waco Brothers), visual artist, activist, drummer, guitarist and producer. In anticipation of his February 10 and 11 Walker performances of The Executioner’s Last Songs, we asked him to participate in 8-Ball, a […]

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One of the more eclectic personalities to visit the Walker in awhile, Jon Langford in a punk rocker (The Mekons), country music fan (Waco Brothers), visual artist, activist, drummer, guitarist and producer. In anticipation of his February 10 and 11 Walker performances of The Executioner’s Last Songs, we asked him to participate in 8-Ball, a Q&A that runs in each issue of our print magazine. Here are the outtakes:

What was your worst job and why?

Corporate employee /musician signed to major label–crippling self-doubt, uncertainty, loss of self-esteem.

What’s the last (or favorite) book you read?

Moby Dick.

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

Every time The Mekons got signed to a major label. When I moved to Chicago in 1992, I had a lot of time on my hands–my wife was in grad school 16 hours a day and my band was dispersed across the globe after being dropped by A&M–so I started painting again.

What is one of the most unexpected influences on your art?

Dreadful contemporary Country & Western Radio.

What was your most character-building experience?

Getting up on the stage of the Double R Ranch in Chicago’s loop with a band called The Sundowners and singing Johnny Cash covers to really scary American drunks and surviving.

They say dogs and their owners tend to look alike. What kind of dog would you own?

I have a Chicago street mutt named Billie Bones and we don’t really look much alike but I believe we share something like 87% of the same DNA. I have no idea if that’s true but I believe it.

Behind the 8-Ball: Juana Molina

Argentinian singer Juana Molina‘s music has been likened to “Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier covering Nick Drake, whispering luminous folk tunes amid electronic thickets while acoustic guitars and pianos flicker like votive candles” (Entertainment Weekly). As the headliner of a Saturday, October 22 performance at the Walker (openers will be Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of The […]

Argentinian singer Juana Molina‘s music has been likened to “Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier covering Nick Drake, whispering luminous folk tunes amid electronic thickets while acoustic guitars and pianos flicker like votive candles” (Entertainment Weekly). As the headliner of a Saturday, October 22 performance at the Walker (openers will be Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of The Sea and Cake), she participated in our ongoing 8-Ball feature that runs in the print edition of Walker. To hear her music click the link above; to get a better feel for her ideas and influences, read on, with eight more 8-Ball answers:

What is one of the most unexpected influences on your art?

Nature. All the randomness sounds in nature, the smells and shapes.

What have you been listening to lately?

The Animal Collective, Regina Spektor.

What are you obsessing about these days?

Noise.

What’s your comfort food of choice?

Boiled potatoes and avocado.

What is your favorite inanimate object?

A stone, probably.

If you could have any job/career, what would you choose?

If I had to stop doing music, I would like to be a physicist.

What is your advice for young people today?

I think we have always been the same with different disguises.

I’m worried, though, by the fact they – and people in general –are getting so far away of nature and real feelings. I don’t think I like this addiction to chat, cells and internet. To me that’s pretty poor.

I wander if we are going down an endless ladder.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

A person!!!

Behind the 8-Ball: Sarah Michelson

Sarah Michelson Yesterday, winding my way through the new Walker, I witnessed what must’ve been choreographer Sarah Michelson’s dancers rehearsing for the performance of Daylight (For Minneapolis). As Michelson is notoriously tight-lipped about revealing details on her performances beforehand, I can’t give anything away. But expect surprises (and perhaps a stone-still dancer with a Walker […]

Sarah Michelson

Yesterday, winding my way through the new Walker, I witnessed what must’ve been choreographer Sarah Michelson’s dancers rehearsing for the performance of Daylight (For Minneapolis). As Michelson is notoriously tight-lipped about revealing details on her performances beforehand, I can’t give anything away. But expect surprises (and perhaps a stone-still dancer with a Walker Shop bag over her head). Still, as the description of her September 15-18 performances leaves just about everything to the imagination–“a dance/installation experience inspired by the design of the Walker’s new building”–perhaps a look at her earlier works can offer an inkling.

In a 2003 performance at the Kitchen, typical audience/performer relationships were reversed. Viewing bleachers were on stage, facing out, and when the performance began, the house lights went up, not down. Artforum describes what happened next: “[T]he doors to the Kitchen swung open instead of shut, and all the way, across the street, two spotlit dancers in bright yellow tunics walked in unison down three steps of the building opposite and danced, in small side-to-side motions, into the performance space itself.”

For Part I of Daylight, presented at PS 122 in June, she placed “the audience in a kind of box, with the musicians behind them, and leaving a performing space that was only about twelve feet deep,” wrote Joan Acocella in The New Yorker. “This show was one of the strangest things I have ever seen. The four dancers entered through an upstage passageway that looked like something from Dr. Caligari’s house. They then launched into a carefully rehearsed, largely unison dance that was traditional in one sense–it was done on the music–and in no other.”

And in a choreographic commission for Baryshnikov and his White Oak Dance Project, Michelson “costumed the ballet legend in Velcro handcuffs, gold chains and an ankle-length, see-through Chanel skirt, and set him to dance on a stage carpeted in bubble wrap. Such is her eclectic idea of elegance, never too pristine,” wrote Art in America.

Parker Lutz

Or maybe her personality, or as much of it as comes through an eight-question artist questionnaire, can offer some ideas about what to expect. In the September issue of Walker we ran our usual 8-ball Q&A with her. Here’s another eight:

What’s the last (or favorite) book you read?

Experience by Martin Amis

If you could throw a dinner party for anyone in the world, who would you

invite?

Tonight? Parker Lutz [a dancer in Michelson's company].

How do you like to unwind/relax?

Bath, sleep.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Cellulite. My bank balance. My loneliness.

What artists are you most interested in at the moment?

How does one answer a question like that?

What is your favorite euphemism?

Bathroom.

Who is your favorite villain of fiction?

Keith Talent [Protagonist in Martin Amis' London Fields]

What question do you wish we asked you?

The answer is: grace is crucial.

No closer to understanding? Me neither. I guess we’ll have to show up and see for ourselves…

Behind the 8-ball: Don Celender

One of the questions I asked Rirkrit Tiravanija in last month’s 8-ball Q&A was both a rip-off of and an homage to the late conceptual artist Don Celender. An art professor at Macalester College in St. Paul for four decades, Celender (like Rirkrit, only perhaps moreso) had a pronounced trickster streak: he created Artball trading […]

One of the questions I asked Rirkrit Tiravanija in last month’s 8-ball Q&A was both a rip-off of and an homage to the late conceptual artist Don Celender. An art professor at Macalester College in St. Paul for four decades, Celender (like Rirkrit, only perhaps moreso) had a pronounced trickster streak: he created Artball trading cards that featured pre-Photoshop photocollages of Picasso, Dubuffet, Jasper Johns, and others in baseball-star poses; surveyed artists, military officers, and soap opera actors on art-related issues; made snowglobes with tiny artwork replicas inside and art-shaped animal crackers; and proposed to General Motors that they make a line of cars using the dimensions of Ralph “Unsafe at Any Speed” Nader’s body.

Celender died in March at age 73, and as Macalester painting professor Christine Willcox later told me, at his memorial service colleagues read from the book he created with Ricardo Bloch, Mortal Remains (published by Intermedia Arts). He’d asked some 400 artists and writers what they wished to have done with their earthly remains when they died, what possessions should accompany them into the next world, and how they want their grave to be marked. John Coplans said he wanted his ashes reduced to powder and packed “somewhat like drug dealers do with grams of coke,” and Mike Kelley said he wanted his ashes either distributed in Bryce Canyon to the blaring of the MC5 or his body left somewhere “so the state is stuck with the cost of dealing with it.” Most memorable was New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, who said she wanted her body compacted into the shape and volume of a bouillion cube (if you have trouble with the how-to part, check with the military, she suggests) then buried in the ground beneath a small tombstone marked with a Minnesota-appropriate epitaph, “Don’t mind me.” Rirkrit’s reply is less overt, suggesting perhaps a spectacular death or a quiet fading away: “I hope there is nothing left behind.”

Behind the 8-ball: Rirkrit Tiravanija

With the relaunch of the Walker print calendar as the more magaziney Walker in April, we’ve given more prominence to our Q & A column, 8-Ball. Made up of eight questions of varying import, the column has featured a range of artists, from Minneapolis painter Frank Gaard to queer performance icon Peggy Shaw to turntablist-artist […]

With the relaunch of the Walker print calendar as the more magaziney Walker in April, we’ve given more prominence to our Q & A column, 8-Ball. Made up of eight questions of varying import, the column has featured a range of artists, from Minneapolis painter Frank Gaard to queer performance icon Peggy Shaw to turntablist-artist Christian Marclay. The current issue features Rirkrit Tiravanija (whose work is on view for another week at the Serpentine as well as in our exhibition Urban Cocktail), but, alas, for a guy like him, eight questions wasn’t enough.

So, with eight more from Rirkrit, I hereby launch an occasional blog feature, Behind the 8-Ball, where I’ll reveal additional answers to this Q&A as well as any noteworthy stories that might seem… uh, worthy of note.

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

When, at the age of five years old, my shoe string fell off.

What’s your most vivid memory from childhood?

Learning to tie my shoe strings.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Chastity.

What was your most character-building experience?

Learning to tie the shoe string.

What three items can always be found in your refrigerator?

Super-8 film, 16mm film and marmite.

They say dogs and their owners tend to look alike. What kind of dog would you own?

A Chow Chow.

What artists would you like to collaborate with?

Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Broodthaers, Andy Warhol, Eva Hesse, Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta Clark.

What are you obsessing about these days?

Fly fishing.

(And, yes, that is the image the artist submitted.)