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Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata

Sekou Sundiata – Voice and Passage Today, I ponder death. I am thinking of life’s inevitable end because it is gray and I have just returned from Paris and feel the demise of my own vacation, acutely (and remember some vain and heroic graves in Pere Lachaise cemetary that now lie in ruins or are […]

Sekou Sundiata – Voice and Passage

Today, I ponder death. I am thinking of life’s inevitable end because it is gray and I have just returned from Paris and feel the demise of my own vacation, acutely (and remember some vain and heroic graves in Pere Lachaise cemetary that now lie in ruins or are forgotten.) I am also thinking of death in relation to my lost compatriot, the poet Sekou Sundiata, whose life and work we celebrate and remember this week at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.

Sekou created in voice – invisible exhalations of sound and meaning. In our time, voice can be preserved in analog and digital technologies. But constitutionally it is wind – ubiquitous, forceful and completely mysterious. Voice (as wind) shapes and moves us, wounding and restoring, animating and destroying. As long as we breath (easily) we give voice to ourselves and to others. Our (or at least my) beloved and hated remembrances are linked to these invisible currents of the lungs, throat and lips. We are upheld by those moments when we are nourished and sustained by the voices of care; of friendship; of understanding; of compassion: and often crushed by those breaths that carry the forces of hatred, contempt and violence. Spirit. Voice. Are we not wind too – ubiquitously banal – blown and blowing; arriving as departure?

These dark and light gifts of voice: a newborn’s cry; words of love and endearment from someone we long for; news of the passing of someone we cherish. Passing – always – wind and voice – words that wound, heal, reverberate and echo. Sounds carried in the head and heart; in the caverns of the body. Voice – inescapable – whisper or harangue. Voice as phantasm – mystery and mist – more allied to expiration than to form.

Unlike others who in print lie forever prone on a page; Sundiata rises holographically even now in his voice (listen to him on the web- linked here); ghostly returning to stand before us, nearly as gorgeous and tall as he was in life; convening and communicating in his crooner’s baritone; lulling in his clear tones – smoothing over the very depths he so expertly navigated. Making it all seem so easy (His Coolness forever preserved). Listen in. He tells how he temporarily escaped the inevitable through transplantation, accident and re-creation. In the end, by aligning himself with voice – perhaps he mastered expiration; escaped the final silence by refusing to just be written down.

We return this week to his work (an expiration of voice together in song and conversation); perhaps, to dance our own undoing; to be with him in passing.

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Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata: The America Project
Thursday, October 22, 2009 – Saturday, October 24, 2009
2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408 | 612.871.4444

Intermedia Arts is proud to host Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata: The America Project Twin Cities, a series of community events including Art Treats lunches, citizenship dinners, a film screening and community sing, all designed to inspire and ignite our passionate ideals around citizenry, civic work, and active engagement in civic life. Together we will use art, music, conversation and laughter to discuss what it means to be an American today, and to dream about what it could mean in the future
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Nauman in Venice

Bruce Nauman has been one of the talk of the Venice Biennale (“a stunning success” … “a contemporary classic” … “virtually never disappoints“), winning the Golden Lion Award for Topological Gardens, his installation at the U. S. Pavilion and two other sites. Here, guest blogger and Minneapolis artist Monica Haller writes from Italy with her […]

pict5876Bruce Nauman has been one of the talk of the Venice Biennale (“a stunning success” … “a contemporary classic” … “virtually never disappoints“), winning the Golden Lion Award for Topological Gardens, his installation at the U. S. Pavilion and two other sites. Here, guest blogger and Minneapolis artist Monica Haller writes from Italy with her own impressions:

In addition to Daniel Birnbaum’s Making Worlds exhibitions in the Giardini and Arsenale, and collateral events all around the city, the Venice Biennale is characterized by the national pavilions — individual buildings designed to house one country’s exhibition-its representation of itself. Each country decides who and what it will show. On the first morning before the three days of opening events, the Giardini was quiet. My intent during that rare moment of calm was to briefly stroll through a few of the country pavilions with these questions in mind: How does this country want to represent itself? What topics will it discuss and what not? (What will I see and how will this reflect my agenda for this country?)

I planned to move from Brazil to Israel to the U.S., was particularly curious about the middle pavilion. (Palestinian representation was dispersed through collateral events. One noteworthy exhibition, Venice c/o Palestine). But, even before I was able to dig into the Israeli exhibition featuring Raffi Lavie, we were evacuated from the pavilion. A stray bag was left unattended. Quickly they discovered the owner – no bombs – and we re-entered. Even so, enough time passed to understand that a country’s state of being (the reality its citizens live from day to day) is going to travel with it to these isolated little buildings in Italy.

With this in mind, I moved into the U.S. pavilion, one of three installations of Bruce Nauman’s Topical Gardens. The U.S. Pavilion is U-shaped with columns lining the front. It was designed after those neo-classical federal buildings in the United States that populate D.C. and other key cities. As an exhibition site, the building is stately and tame. It was redeemed this year by Nauman’s neon signs that hung just above the front columns. TEMPERANCE / GLUTTONY, FAITH / LUST, CHARITY / SLOTH.

The first piece one sees when entering from the left side of the building is Nauman’s wax heads. (Four Pair of Heads, 1991), hanging from the middle of the room, flesh-colored and red, dripping wax fluid. A fifth bronze head hangs just to the side, tinted blue from the elements. The heads look like they are suspended from barbed wire. (Really, just wire twisted back on itself). On the wall behind, several more wax heads are stacked on top of each other facing the corner, as if sent there for a child’s time out.

pict5877This room struck me hard. The dismemberment and wire restraint called to mind Guantanamo Bay, or scenes from Abu Ghraib (taken one step further). I felt like crying and was surprised at my own association with Nauman’s work. The irony was that his pavilion installation was hung very elegantly, preciously. This treatment had potential to smooth out the rawness and aggressiveness inherent in Nauman’s work, but it didn’t. (As a side note, the State Department is in charge of the U.S. Pavilion, which it fills by making a call for curatorial proposals.)

Though Nauman’s work does not overtly reference political history, he does challenge notions of isolated experience. In that way, the Biennale pavilions do not, and cannot, operate in isolation from their countries’ current conditions. As United States citizens, we will carry these past eight years with us.

I also got over to the Nauman installation at the Universita Ca’ Foscari.Nauman is prolific, but not all his works are masterpieces. The best part about the overall installation here is that it demonstrates that fact. In this way, it subverts the preciousness of the final art object (and the handling of his work at the U.S. Pavilion).

His work is “Not always good, but important,” art critic Patricia Briggs said as we walked along. I agree with that. He informed a generation of artists through his multi-disciplinary work. Currently, in the Universita Ca’ Forscari, it is very apparent that his intense curiosity and experimentation precede a need to promote the artist-as-genius. I approach Nauman’s experiments with trust. They are genuine inquiries, and I am going to follow right along with him.

Henry Darger, meet Amy Cutler

The American Folk Art Museum has the largest collection of Henry Darger‘s work and currently are exhibiting Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger. Darger was an untrained artist living in Chicago whose life-work, In the Realms of the Unreal, was hidden until after his death in 1973. Realms tells the story of a child rebel […]

The American Folk Art Museum has the largest collection of Henry Darger‘s work and currently are exhibiting Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger. Darger was an untrained artist living in Chicago whose life-work, In the Realms of the Unreal, was hidden until after his death in 1973. Realms tells the story of a child rebel army dubbed The Vivian Girls as they battle against their oppressors. The Walker screened the documentary on Darger’s life, In the Realms of the Unreal.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSzzirIP0No[/youtube]

Darger compiled his work into phone books, and often created two sided pieces that exceeded 10′ in length. One of these large-scale works was featured in the exhibition Body Politics.

The new show at the Folk Art Museum positions Darger’s work next to 11 contemporary artists, one of them being Amy Cutler. I first encountered Cutler’s work in the exhibition Dialogues: Amy Cutler/David Rathman and quickly fell in love with her whimsical, yet sour drawings. Light-bulbs went a’flashing off in my head as I looked at Cutler’s young girls with their 20′ braided pony-tails next to Darger’s unsettling intersexed child-battalion.

By the way, there’s a cute band called The Vivian Girls and they’re playing in Minneapolis on June 10 at Future Pasture. I mean, they’re no Best Friends Forever (but who is, really?).

FACTORY TOWN

PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT (AVANT-GARDE, CZECH MODERNIST.) Sutnar, Ladislav. Original set of woodblocks for Build the Town. 30 pieces [complete], small wooden building blocks, cones, and triangles painted in red, blue, and yellow, some paint chipping, some a bit soiled. [New York, circa 1942] One of a handful of surviving prototypes; from the Sutnar family collection. Estimate: […]

sutnar.jpg

PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT (AVANT-GARDE, CZECH MODERNIST.) Sutnar, Ladislav. Original set of woodblocks for Build the Town. 30 pieces [complete], small wooden building blocks, cones, and triangles painted in red, blue, and yellow, some paint chipping, some a bit soiled. [New York, circa 1942] One of a handful of surviving prototypes; from the Sutnar family collection. Estimate: $7,000.00-10,000.00.

Ladislav Sutnar began his career in his native Czechoslovakia as a toy designer and educator. Between 1922 and 1926 he created Factory Town, a set of children’s blocks designed as an educational toy in the spirit of Friedrich Froebel’s blocks. After emigrating to the states, he tried in earnest to find a manufacturer for the set which he re-named less grimly Build the Town. This is one of only a few prototypes created, entirely at Sutnar’s expense, with the hope that the company Cobos/Builders would produce the set, but it was not to be realized. Another major impediment came from lumber companies that could not stop wartime orders to produce the wooden blocks. Despite his best efforts, Sutnar was forced to abandon the project. Build the Town represents an inventive attempt by Sutnar to introduce children to the basic forms, vibrant primary colors, and the creative freedom of design. [source: Swann Galleries, eBay]

BORING & NON-OFFENSIVE

These remind me of the boring & non-offensive awesome WACTAC t-shirt. MORE: Retro Kid & Retro Teen pools on flickr Your Children’s Manners by Rhoda W. Bacmeister, 1952. Illustrated by Janet LaSalle. When Children Start Dating by Edith G. Neisser, 1951. Illustrated by Janet LaSalle. [source: wardomatic’s photoset on flickr]

TONI BASIL rare A&M single – “Breakaway” Promo

Above: This is Toni Basil’s excellent and very rare 1966 single on A & M. The A-side is “Breakaway”, a soulful dancer that was the title track to a short film Toni starred in. The B-side is a terrific, moody piece called “I’m 28″, written by Graham Gouldman. The disc’s condition is about VG-, with […]

Breakaway
Above: This is Toni Basil’s excellent and very rare 1966 single on A & M. The A-side is “Breakaway”, a soulful dancer that was the title track to a short film Toni starred in. The B-side is a terrific, moody piece called “I’m 28″, written by Graham Gouldman. The disc’s condition is about VG-, with some light marks, and some wear to the labels. Happy bidding and good luck. [ebay]

Breakaway (1966) by Bruce Conner, with (you’re so fine you blow my mind) Antonia Christina Basilotta.

Also: Mea Culpa, a previously unreleased Bruce Conner film made for Brian Eno and David Byrne’s 1981 album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

2000 BC THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II [WAC]

Beach Blogging.

If the images on this page are any indication, fatherhood is a pretty cool thing for Andy Beach. A former Walker design intern (before they were called fellows), he now lives in South Philadelphia with his wife, another former Walker design intern, and their one-year-old daughter Elsa. When not plying his trade at Urban Outfitters, […]

andybeach1.jpgIf the images on this page are any indication, fatherhood is a pretty cool thing for Andy Beach. A former Walker design intern (before they were called fellows), he now lives in South Philadelphia with his wife, another former Walker design intern, and their one-year-old daughter Elsa. When not plying his trade at Urban Outfitters, he dreams of opening a shop dedicated to one or some of his passions. In introducing Andy as Off Center‘s guest blogger for the next few weeks, I’ll let his own images and biographical notes suggest just what that shop might sell.

Andy Beach

B.1976

Collects vintage modern design: furniture, toys and books.

Favorite places in Minneapolis: Matt’s Bar, Grand Bakery (before it was a restaurant). Taqueria on E. Lake St. Always wanted to open a store in that space. Was heart-broken to find someone put a restaurant in there. But, at least it’s a nice place for breakfast.

Favorite Walker exhibition: Robert Gober.andybeach31.jpg

Has a piece of Arturo Herrera’s wall painting in his basement (from Painting at the Edge of the World).

Would like to have seen the Walker’s Idea House project. Would like to see another one.

Is sick of lofts, condos and redevelopment.

Last favorite project… Helping [his wife] Erin design some kids clothes. Going to be starting my own blog, about wanting to be a shopkeeper and obsessing over details of vintage modern design, furniture and toys for kids.

I’m also pretty nuts about eBay. It’s a serious love-hate relationship though.

The Great White North: Arts & Culture Economic Impact Road Show

When Minnesota Citizens for the Arts unveiled its new economic impact report early this month, the effect the state’s nearly 1600 cultural organizations have on local economies caught our attention: these groups bring in well over three-quarters of a billion dollars each year. Sheila Smith, Executive Director of MCA, has agreed to sign on as […]

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When Minnesota Citizens for the Arts unveiled its new economic impact report early this month, the effect the state’s nearly 1600 cultural organizations have on local economies caught our attention: these groups bring in well over three-quarters of a billion dollars each year. Sheila Smith, Executive Director of MCA, has agreed to sign on as guest blogger to share the findings. Smith teaches and lectures nationally about the arts and grassroots advocacy.

I’m driving somewhere north of Bemidji on the “ Great White North Arts & Culture Economic Impact Study Road Show” and it’s snowing. We’re bringing the Word to city councils, county commissioners, local press and legislators across the state – that the arts have a huge economic impact Minnesota and that includes Where You Live.

A new research report, “ The Arts: A Driving Force in Minnesota’s Economy” was released on March 9, 2006 as part of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts’ Arts Advocacy Day. Supporters took the research to legislators to talk about why the arts are important across the state. Here’s the news they delivered: Minnesota’s non-profit arts community has an annual economic impact of over $838.5 million, and over 1500 non-profit arts organizations serve more than 14.5 million people per year – far exceeding the annual attendance of all of our professional sports teams combined.

We know that the most important reasons to support the arts are vibrant communities, smart, well educated kids and the expression of new ideas. But some people don’t understand anything until you explain it to them in numbers. So here we go: over 22,000 Minnesota jobs depend upon the arts. In fact, the arts support more jobs in Minnesota than the mining industry (about 5000). There are even more people whose jobs are supported by the arts than we have dentists (about 14,000).

What makes this groundbreaking research is that in addition to the statewide report we did eleven regional reports. The study partners: MCA, The Forum of Regional Arts Councils and Americans for the Arts, collected nearly 7000 audience intercept surveys statewide. This ridiculously huge over-sample provided some astonishing detail.

The eleven regional studies show that every area of Minnesota, no matter how rural, had at least $1 million in annual economic impact from the arts. Even more interesting, the most rural regions had the highest per capita spending by non-residents, showing a direct link between an area’s arts activities and people coming from out of town to spend money as tourists. That’s a strong incentive for all regions to find more ways to fund and promote the arts as a way to jump-start their economies.

The second, third and fourth largest arts economies in Minnesota are the regions that include Duluth, Rochester and Fergus Falls/Moorhead. With arts economies ranging from $31 to $8 million respectively, the research shows that it’s a myth that the arts are a purely Twin Cities phenomena.

The Big Kahuna is still the Seven County Metro Area, with over half of the state’s population and over $719.5 million in economic impact from its large and diverse nonprofit arts community. This area’s arts economy is two and a half times larger than that of other metro areas studied by Americans for the Arts with similar populations like San Diego, CA and Houston, TX. With the arts being such a driving force in the Seven County Metro Area’s economy, public decision makers need to take notice and be more purposeful about making the arts a part of their economic development strategies.

Clearly, the research shows that communities have a lot to gain when they encourage and support the arts. But they need to understand it. And that’s why we’re out here with our Road Show, looking for a chance to run through the numbers and make some converts. Last week it was St. Paul, Rochester and Mankato. This week it’s Bemidji, Hallock, Staples and Duluth. Watch for us. We’ll be driving soon to a town near you.

Wi-fi-ing over at the MPLS airport

Yeah, I’m done now. That was good fun, really. Drop on by my own blog if you haven’t had enough punishment already. http://blog.wired.com/sterling/ Bruce S. PS: Write if you get honest work!

Yeah, I’m done now. That was good fun, really.

Drop on by my own blog if you haven’t had enough punishment already.

http://blog.wired.com/sterling/

Bruce S.

PS: Write if you get honest work!

Shoes to spimes: Bruce Sterling in Minneapolis

After last night’s dinner with Bruce Sterling, we were joined by Chuck Olsen, the man behind the film Blogumentary and the videoblog Minnesota Stories. Hear Sterling’s thoughts on everything from the pot roast at Minneapolis’ Modern Cafe to what happens to the atomized rubber created when our shoes wear down to his notion of “spimes” […]

BruceChuck.jpg

After last night’s dinner with Bruce Sterling, we were joined by Chuck Olsen, the man behind the film Blogumentary and the videoblog Minnesota Stories. Hear Sterling’s thoughts on everything from the pot roast at Minneapolis’ Modern Cafe to what happens to the atomized rubber created when our shoes wear down to his notion of “spimes” (objects that are trackable over space and time using RFID chips). Watch it here, then join us for Sterling’s free discussion with Rirkrit Tiravanija at the Walker tonight.

Thanks to Bruce and Boingboing‘s Xeni Jardin for guest-blogging at Off Center over the past few weeks.

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