Blogs Field Guide Ashley Duffalo

I manage Public and Community Programs in the Education Department, which I've been calling my home away from home since 2004. When I'm not at the Walker, you can find me enjoying a run, practicing yoga, reading fiction, and dreaming about interior design projects.

The Evolution of a Salad

It’s been more than fifty years since Alison Knowles’ event score Proposition #2, Make a Salad premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London in 1962. This seemingly simple piece, which consists of amassing, washing, chopping, and tossing vegetables into a giant salad that gets served to the audience, has since been performed more than a […]

Nivea Cream Piece by Alison Knowles. Performed at the In the Spirit of Fluxus opening by L. Van Wieren, J. Anfinson, S. Shinazaki, B. Sobocinski and T. Carlsom. Alison Knowles dispensing Nivea cream. February 14, 1993.

Nivea Cream Piece by Alison Knowles. Performed February 14, 1993, during the In the Spirit of Fluxus opening by L. Van Wieren, J. Anfinson, S. Shinazaki, B. Sobocinski, and T. Carlsom. Alison Knowles dispensing Nivea cream. 

It’s been more than fifty years since Alison Knowles’ event score Proposition #2, Make a Salad premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London in 1962. This seemingly simple piece, which consists of amassing, washing, chopping, and tossing vegetables into a giant salad that gets served to the audience, has since been performed more than a dozen times around the world, most recently at the High Line in New York in 2012. Knowles, who last made an appearance at the Walker in the early nineties for the exhibition In the Spirit of Fluxus—returns next week to re-stage Make a Salad on Open Field with her collaborator Joshua Selman. Other work by Knowles and her Fluxus peers is on view in the exhibition Art Expanded, 1958-1978.

Below is an excerpt from the oral history interview with Alison Knowles (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution by Judith Olch Richards, , June 1-2, 2010), which sheds light on the evolution of this iconic salad.

MS. RICHARDS:  You had created a number of Fluxus event scores and I wanted to ask you about a few of them.  One of the early ones, 1962, was Make a Salad, which you’ve done subsequently. How did the idea for that piece come about?  Was that the first time that you were making something using food that people would eat?

MS. KNOWLES:  Well, I’ve become sort of known for the food art thing with the Identical Lunch [1969].

Alison Knowles, The Identical Lunch with Anne Brazean, 1971. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Walker Special Purchase Fund, 1989

Alison Knowles, The Identical Lunch with Anne Brazean, 1971. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Walker Special Purchase Fund, 1989

MS. RICHARDS:  Right, but that was a little bit afterward.  Make a Salad was earlier.

MS. KNOWLES:  The Make a Salad is earlier.  Actually I don’t call it a Fluxus event score.  I think my event scores, some of them, I mean, they were done during that time.

MS. RICHARDS:  Yes.

MS. KNOWLES:  It’s during the Fluxus time but often evades the, what I would call, a strict definition, if you even could do it for Fluxus.

But for me, they are event scores and they’re more based on the work of John Cage than they are on I think – or George Brecht, let’s say, than what became Fluxus performances that many people were doing and adding to.  So what’s meant by a Fluxus performance?  I really don’t know until you describe it to me.  But with the Make a Salad event score, you knew exactly what’s going to happen.

MS. RICHARDS:  So if you knew exactly what was going to happen, you’re making a distinction between that and something where you didn’t know what was going to happen.

MS. KNOWLES:  Well, between what you know is going to happen and things that happen from what you have done is what differentiates I think the event score from something like happenings where there was much more of an “anything goes attitude” and it was more important that certain people were there or that the site where it happened, like one of Kaprow’s happenings.

MS. RICHARDS:  Mm-hmm.

MS. KNOWLES:  When I say you know what’s going to happen in the event scores, for something like Shoes of Your Choice [1963], you’re going to have someone describing their shoes.

You’re not going to have someone telling a story about when they went to India and with Make a Salad you’re not going to have someone serving hors d’oeuvres.  So that’s what I mean by there’s a known quantity and then there’s all the things that happen around it.  But the salad might be made in Indonesia and you have to work with very different ingredients than you would in New York City.

Jackson Mac Low describes his shoes to the audience (Photo: Michael Lange, 1985)

Jackson Mac Low describes his shoes to the audience. Viking Ship Hall, Roskilde, Denmark, May 29, 1985. Photo: Michael Lange

MS. RICHARDS:  When you made that, did you think that it might turn out to be a piece that would be done again and again and that people would respond to it so?

MS. KNOWLES:  No, absolutely not.  I remember how the piece happened.  I was riding with Dick [Higgins] in a cab in London and a performance was going to be the next day and I think I was expected to come up with a lot of the pieces on the program.

It was one of those concerts where somehow just Dick and I were there along with Richard Hamilton in the audience.  George was not there.  George Brecht, George Maciunas was not there.  And it was the Museum of Contemporary Art.  So Dick said, “Well, you know, what are you doing to do?”

MS. RICHARDS:  The Institute of Contemporary Art?

MS. KNOWLES:  Is it called the institute?

MS. RICHARDS:  Yes.

MS. KNOWLES:  The Institute of Contemporary Art and they used to have – they had a very nice little audience room.  So it wasn’t a big hall.  It was a nice sized room and I had decided in the cab with him, I said, “What can I do?  Why don’t I do something with food?  Why don’t I make a salad?”

He said, “Fine, make a salad,” and that would always be Dick’s backup for an idea.  He would say, “Good, talk about your shoes,” or, “Fine, go take the train at 8:00 a.m.,” or you know, he just was very quick to back up a thought.  It’s almost like he wanted to be thinking about something else.

MS. RICHARDS:  But it served to validate your ideas.

MS. KNOWLES:  Yes, absolutely. I never remember him saying, “No, don’t do that.”  He just completely trusted what I would say for this occasion and there was no time to do anything but buy the vegetables in the morning.  That’s all the time there was.  And meanwhile, of course people were expecting some huge show or whatever.

MS. RICHARDS:  Well, when you approached that coming performance that you knew you would be doing, was it actually a very positive approach that you waited until the last minute, was that a usual approach?

MS. KNOWLES:  Usually we had no time.  We usually had just taken the train the day before from Nice.  We probably lost a passport.  I mean, absolutely a hair-raising tour, absolutely, across France, Germany, and you’d get somebody to pay your train fare and that’s about it.

MS. RICHARDS:  One might have taken all of these already created performances with you and not had to have created them at all at the spur of the moment.  So I’m just trying to imagine that maybe –

MS. KNOWLES:  Well, who would perform them?  You’d have to train a group or you’d have to write ahead what you were going – what people were going to do.

MS. RICHARDS:  I’m wondering whether it was in a way purposeful that they were made at the last minute because in fact it’s possible they could have – you could have come up with Make a Salad before you left New York.

MS. KNOWLES:  Oh, I see.  No, I think that the spontaneity of the imminent event was useful.

MS. RICHARDS:  It focused you.

Photo by Liz Ligon Courtesy of Friends of the High Line (2)

Make a Salad at the High Line, New York City, 2012. Photo: Liz Ligon, courtesy of Friends of the High Line

MS. KNOWLES:  Because probably back in New York I would have decided to do something more elaborate, or involve more people or – but I love Emmett Williams’ phrase.  “We have no time and we had to present a united front.”  In other words, within the group there were people who didn’t get along.

As human beings, they didn’t get along with this or that idea or this or that person.  But people always thought they were meeting this completely compatible group getting off a bus.  But by the time we got to present at the theater, we certainly had a pretty good idea what we were going to be doing.

We met the night before and put our ideas together and then often there was George Maciunas who would act as our director, whatever, and was very good as a, you know, what do you want to call it, the man who presents on a television show.

MS. RICHARDS:  Emcee?

MS. KNOWLES:  Yeah, he was a great emcee.  He looked strange.  He wore a monocle and full dress suit, black with a monocle and spoke with a decided accent.  He used more of an Eastern European accent.  When you consider that most of these are American artists exhausted, traveling around, you know, from place to place with Emmett who was a wonderful performer and brilliant and who was putting in a lot of very good pieces.

MS. RICHARDS:  Why were you doing all this touring in Europe?  Was it just a much more welcoming artistic scene that you couldn’t find in the U.S.?

MS. KNOWLES:  It didn’t exist here at all and even when we came back after the first Wiesbaden Museum presentation and then went through Europe, we came back to New York and we tried to put on an event on Canal Street in Dick Higgins’ space, his studio.  And I think he didn’t properly manage the promotion because George had always done that in Europe.  All we had to do was get there.

So here I think we all made a few phone calls but there couldn’t have been more than 20 people in the audience and not plausible – it was very haphazard.  We did a piece of mine called String Piece [1964] where I kind of tie up the audience and make chairs get tied to me and I get tied to the mike and it was kind of a nice web piece, which could be done when something else is being read.

So the Make a Salad was a totally amazing event.  He also did Shoes of Your Choice that night with Richard Hamilton’s performance.  Anyway, with Make a Salad, I got there and the little man in a red jacket who served the drinks, he said I couldn’t use any water because he needed the water to wash the glasses.

And I said, “But I have to wash a lot of lettuce.”  He said, “I’m sorry, I knew nothing of this,” and he began to raise his voice and my friend Robert Filliou was standing by the door.  And he walked in and this man had little red lapels on his little dinner jacket.

And he lifted this little guy by his lapels right up off the floor.  And he shook him and he said, “You give her whatever she wants,” put this guy down, completely turned him around and he left and I turned on the water ad washed everything.  I didn’t see him again.

Winter, we bid you farewell with a song

Track 1: Cabin Fever Winter is lingering on like a bad cold. While this will definitely go down as one of the worst subzero spells in recent history, there were some really fun moments in January and February that made the season more bearable. I’m referring to our series of Thursday night programs called Cabin […]

Lexa Walsh

Lexa Walsh and Jerry Brownrigg

Track 1: Cabin Fever

Winter is lingering on like a bad cold. While this will definitely go down as one of the worst subzero spells in recent history, there were some really fun moments in January and February that made the season more bearable. I’m referring to our series of Thursday night programs called Cabin Fever that invited artists to design and host events that were social, participatory, and slightly idiosyncratic—including a poetry and printmaking party, butter-making aerobics, B-movie bingo, and a collaborative song-writing session about the long northern winters called Fever Songs.

Oakland-based artist Lexa Walsh and local music hero John Munson (Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic, The New Standards) hosted Fever Songs, with support from artist Chris Larson who supplied the rustic cabin, musician Jerry Brownrigg, and sound recording engineer Richard Medek. It took a talented team to pull off a one-night-only recording studio and an engaged audience willing to put some time into composing a song. The lyrics people contributed were fantastic and covered a range of  emotion, from hostility to humor. Lexa, John, and Jerry were masterful composers as they instantaneously interpreted the texts into sound, choosing a punk flavor for one or a folky melody for another.  Enjoy the resulting tracks—proof that our creativity cannot be suppressed by a long Minnesota winter.

(Note: all songs were sung and performed by Lexa, John, and Jerry with help from some of the songwriters. Track 14, “Ukulele” was sung and strummed entirely by the songwriters, Anna Marie Vu and Dave Kaminski.)

Jerry on drums John Munson on vocals and guitar

Jerry Brownrigg on drums, John Munson on vocals and guitar

Track 2: Cold Outside

Baby it's Cold Outside

A group of students from Duluth surrounding Chris Larson's cabin

A group of students from Duluth surrounding Chris Larson’s cabin

Track 3: Days Are Getting Longer

Nights are Longer

Track 4: Dead Frog

Dead Frog

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Track 5: Die Right Here

Frostbite on my nose

Sound engineer Richard Medek busy recording tracks

Sound engineer Richard Medek recording tracks

Track 6: Fed on Potatoes

Potatoes

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Track 7: Frankie Boy

Frankie Boy

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Track 8: Hate Mix

HATE

Track 9: Minnesnowta Territory

The Cold Weather

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Track 10: Polar Vortex Polka

God Damn Polar Vortex

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Track 11: Sexy Long Underwear

Sexy Long Underwear

Track 12: South Pitch

South Pitch

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Track 13: Stinging Piggies

My Toe is Frozen

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Track 14: Ukulele

Tonight

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Track 15: Winter is My Favorite Season

I'm a Rebel

I'm a Rebel-1

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Track 16: 24-Hour Nurse

Nurse

 

Feel the Churn in Style

Photo: Gene Pittman

Winter is in full swing, we ache for sun and dream of warmth while bundling in layers of clothing in an attempt to build a private sauna to protect against the cold. It’s the season of cabin fever, seasonal depression, and a time when whatever tans gained over summer are shamelessly gone, seemingly forever.

But at least this year we have the Olympics. Winter exercise might actually make this season manageable.  Except that generally when the Games are playing we don’t have to be outside, or exercising at all for that matter. Just a couch and a hot drink, perhaps, to stave away the weary cold days. It’s time we joined the Olympians with a little winter activity of our own, enjoying some aerobic exercise to ward off the winter blues. Thanks to Jimmy Fusil and Mike Wait of the art duo PopSoda, exercise isn’t just about burning fat, but also about making fat.  Enjoy those treats you guzzle down whilst gasping to the figure skaters who actually land a triple axle.  You churned it yourself!

2014 Olympian Opening Ceremony Outfits. photo credit: Ralph Lauren

Photo: Ralph Lauren

In preparation for this Thursday’s butter-making aerobics workshops led by PopSoda and amusingly titled Feel the Churn, I have decided to examine some fitness fashion because it turns out that workout gear has changed dramatically and it seems that exercise (and life for that matter) is a little bit more fun with some flair. With Olympics on the mind let’s start by being grateful for the fact that our athletic costumes have developed radically from the Ancient Greeks. Instead of competing in the nude, the U.S. Olympians have a magnificent cardigan designed by Ralph Lauren to parade in the opening ceremony.

Ancient Olympic Racing

Photo: http://schoolworkhelper.net

Thanks to some athletic clothing research, it turns out that we owe the 1950s thanks for synthetic fabrics like elastane, spandex and lycra. These fabrics began to alter clothing dramatically. No more itchy wool and cotton! Hello to breathable, stretchy fabrics. Yet, despite these new fabrics exercise wasn’t even that popular, especially when fat-jiggling belts were believed to inspire weight loss. Why sweat?

fat jiggling machine. photo credit: http://www.mariadicroce.com

Photo: http://www.mariadicroce.com

In response to the poor fitness of many army recruits, Dr. Kennith Cooper M.D. released his book Aerobics in 1968 which outlined the many ways to help increase fitness through aerobic exercise. Yet it wasn’t until the 1980s, with inspiration such as Olivia Newton-John’s music video for Let’s Get Physical that many Americans decided to take exercise more seriously, start sweating and don their finest leotards for some calf-burning action.

Dance Aerobics. Photo Credit: Oaks at Ojai

Photo: Oaks at Ojai

From step aerobics to dance aerobics, exercise became a fashion in and of itself. With Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons leading the nation, aerobic exercise took over. The leg warmers, the glitter, the skin tight leggings and leotards… it was all there. The images are classic, the looks undeniable.

Jane Fonda aerobics. Photo Credit: sportsphoto ltd./allstar

Photo: sportsphoto ltd./allstar

Richard Simmons Aerobics. photo credit:  Air New Zealand

Photo: Air New Zealand

Now it’s the 21st century. How does aerobics fit into today’s fashion trends? How do people decorate themselves for physical activity? It turns out the look is eclectic, with bright colors from the 80s to newfab running shorts and advanced micro-fiber technology to undeniably hipster throwbacks and more. Athletic outfits are as diverse as ever. Just check out what various individuals from the Walker chose to wear for their first attempt at churning butter.

photo credit: Gene Pittman

Photo: Gene Pittman

Aerobics with a contemporary twist. Get creative and come to Feel the Churn with some of your most ridiculous gear while sweating away the winter blues and making your very own sweet butter and find inspiration by watching Pop Soda’s butter aerobics somewhere much warmer. We’re excited, are you?

Written by Sheila Novak, artist and aerobic adventurist

 

Making Fritz Haeg’s Rug

While the plants were growing outside in Fritz Haeg’s Foraging Circle, his crocheted rug was accruing mass inside the Walker. Once the Domestic Integrities A05 rug—or simply “the rug”—arrived to the Walker two weeks ago, it amassed 5 additional feet thanks to a team of enthusiastic volunteers who grew the rug’s diameter from 22 to 27 […]

While the plants were growing outside in Fritz Haeg’s Foraging Circle, his crocheted rug was accruing mass inside the Walker. Once the Domestic Integrities A05 rug—or simply “the rug”—arrived to the Walker two weeks ago, it amassed 5 additional feet thanks to a team of enthusiastic volunteers who grew the rug’s diameter from 22 to 27 feet in a brief three and a half days. While positioned in the Cargill Lounge, a very public centralized space in the Walker, the rug and its laborers attracted the attention of visitors and staff alike who were encouraged to take their shoes off to sit and learn about the communally-made artwork.

Artist Fritz Haeg demonstrating the crocheting technique. All photos by Gene Pittman.

Artist Fritz Haeg demonstrating the crocheting technique. All photos by Gene Pittman.

The entire rug is made from donated fabrics and clothing. The process involves cutting or ripping the textiles into strips that can be tied into the rug and woven in using a hand-crochet technique that’s very simple and requires no needles. We collected and used 300 lbs. of fabric to create the Minneapolis portion of the rug.

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Beginning in Pennsylvania the rug first took form at Mildred’s Lane, a rural artist-run space led by J. Morgan Puett and Mark Dion. It was there that the epicenter was created with white and neutral-toned antique fabrics more than 100 years old. The next section is a colorful contrast representing clothing from Haeg’s Los Angelenos friends where you can find a few sequins and zippers in the mix. Then onto New York City where it grew further at the Museum of Modern Art, followed by another trip back to Los Angeles where it stayed at the Hammer Museum, and finally to the Walker Art Center. All of the five sections remain separate to make the transport of this heavy rug possible.

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This is one of two rugs by Haeg that’s traveling around the United States along with a third one in Europe, that’s currently making its home at Pollinari an organic farm and artist residency center in Abruzzo, Italy.

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The Domestic Integrities A05 rug now resides in the exhibition Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City where it will be on view in the Medtronic Gallery until November 24th. Haeg will be here throughout August inhabiting the rug, knitting, doing yoga, and sharing tea with visitors.

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Scores for Art by Lightsey Darst

A dance critic, poet, and author of Find the Girl (Coffee House Press, 2010) and the forthcoming Dance (September 2013), Lightsey Darst was the first writer selected to participate in The Writers and Readers Library Residency Program, an initiative presented by Coffee House Press through a grant from the McKnight Foundation. Darst spent her residency in the Walker’s library for […]

A dance critic, poet, and author of Find the Girl (Coffee House Press, 2010) and the forthcoming Dance (September 2013), Lightsey Darst was the first writer selected to participate in The Writers and Readers Library Residency Program, an initiative presented by Coffee House Press through a grant from the McKnight Foundation. Darst spent her residency in the Walker’s library for several weeks in June and on one Target Free Thursday Night initiated an in-gallery writing experiment for visitors.

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We had a simple idea: let’s let viewers come up with new captions for the art. The idea morphed a bit, we added typewriters, and Scores for Art was born—an experiment in creative art captioning. Below, some of my favorites. Here are the instructions everyone saw. The reverse of the card gives a prompt; you’ll see there were a variety of these.

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I have no idea what work of art inspired this, but I want to wander around the whole Walker now with this phrase in mind.

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When’s the last time you played with a typewriter? Love the improvised punctuation here.

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I can’t read this at all, but isn’t it beautiful? Also, I love the idea that this is what the art does. Pure typewriter art.

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Some people took this prompt as an opportunity for critique. But I like thinking about what absences a work of art brings to mind. What artwork do you think prompted this?

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I almost suspect this person of playing to the house. But it’s the restart in the last few lines that gets me.

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This was me, I have to admit, testing one of the typewriters. I couldn’t figure out how to get the typewriter to go farther across the page. I was looking at Gary Simmons’ Us & Them.

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Doesn’t make sense, but we get it all the same, right? I love how art leaps these gaps.

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Slant rhyme on history/tenacity. Also, that last line.

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Wouldn’t this make a great caption? Also, I enjoy how the typewriter’s irregular strike made at least one of us briefly think this said “us” instead of “u”.

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e. e. cummings would be proud.

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Let’s!

 

 

 

Meet the Fritz Haeg Residency Interns

It takes a village or, in this case, a team of five talented and enthusiastic interns to help make a large-scale residency project like Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City work. Over the next few months Bridget Mendel, Will Gobeli, Katherine Lee, Brett Baldauf, and Björn Sparrman will bring their passions and knowledge for activities […]

It takes a village or, in this case, a team of five talented and enthusiastic interns to help make a large-scale residency project like Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City work. Over the next few months Bridget Mendel, Will Gobeli, Katherine Lee, Brett Baldauf, and Björn Sparrman will bring their passions and knowledge for activities like bee-keeping, bread-making, composting, textile design, and gardening into the mix of programs they’re helping to shape. They’ll also be posting updates to the Walker blog throughout the summer. Stop by the Foraging Circle in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden during a Target Free Thursday Night to meet the team and talk about the art that abounds in the garden, in the wild, and in the home.

 

Bridget Mendel

Bridget Mendel

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Will Gobeli

Will Gobeli

My name is Will Gobeli and I am an Artist-in-Residence intern with Fritz Haeg’s projects. I will be working mostly with Domestic Integrities, but I will be hanging around the Foraging Circle and helped plant the Edible Estate. I am a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Bachelor of Fine Art program in studio arts, focusing on ceramics and sculpture. My current interests lie in where art resides, and working on this project is an exciting investigation into the art of everyday life and the value of domestic literacy.

Klode Beach, Milwaukee

Klode Beach, Milwaukee

I am originally from Milwaukee, Wis. I grew up in the city in a neighborhood full of tall trees, not far from the beaches, rock piles, and endless horizons of Lake Michigan. Crafts have always been a big part of my life; both my mother and father were very DIY. I remember watching my dad make a tree swing out of rope and a 2×6 by throwing a rock tied to a piece of twine over a branch twenty feet in the air. My family also rented a small garden plot when I was very young. I remember weeding and watering and sitting in the shade of the conical trellis that we used to grow bird’s nest gourds.

These early experiences provoked me to explore other domestic skills later in life. When I was about 16, my family and I went to dinner at my mother’s friend’s house. They served rolls with dinner that were so delicious they changed my perspective on life. At the time they were, without a doubt, the best things I had ever tasted. They were simple and warm, with a delicate crust and wonderful texture. The moment I tasted those rolls, I knew I wanted to make bread.

My first try was disastrous. I scalded the yeast, killing it and crushing any hope of making fluffy rolls. The product of this attempt was something like a bland, half-baked scone with a chewy center.

I got better. I learned from cookbooks, friends, and family. By the time I was twenty, I was making beautiful loaves whose crispy crusts sang as they came out of the oven. My love of bread created a desire to know more about making it. I experimented, making a sourdough starter that was strong enough to make beautiful, airy sourdough loaves without any additional yeast.

Bread is fascinating to me. It is, in various forms, part of every culture on earth. As nomadic peoples settled down they began to use cultured grains as forms of sustenance, resulting in everything from dense, flavorful fasting breads to flaky phyllo dough. I’ve always been interested in what a bread says about a culture; do cultures that value bread differ from those that mass-produce it?

All of these questions and experiences provoked my interest in Fritz’s projects. My old interests of baking and gardening complemented and newer interests of art theory fell in line with the aims of Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City. I am looking forward to learning, foraging, crocheting, and getting to know the communities that this project brings together. Keep an eye out for what’s going on with the projects! There are many ways to interact with the project.

Hope to see you around the gardens!

- Will

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Katherine Lee

Katherine Lee

Katherine Lee is a fiction writer and textile artist from Chicago. Edible Estates and Domestic Integrities combine her enduring passions: creating and inhabiting the home space both indoors and out. In 2010, she started a handmade home textiles company, featuring designs including pigs,  pennants, and shouting hippos. Her work has been sold across the US and in Korea. She is also an avid gardener, and is especially interested in sustainable urban farming. She moved to Minneapolis in 2012 and is an MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota.

pillow pennant hippos

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In deed and word

we make ourselves,

and by choice deeds

and by choice words

we are as we are wont to be.

 

From minute to minute

and day to day

we choose to be;

and, thus, by being

are we thus perceived.

 

We choose as we believe

‘cause we believe ‘tis our beliefs

that choose our choice;

and thus it is that

we choose not, but just believe.

 

So it comes that I believe

the earth is ever holding me

and so I, as I am wont to do,

do choose to hold it too.

 

Plants in hand, and trowel too,

I thank the earth that gives all

and calling out I hear the call

that calls to give my all to you.

 

Brett Baldauf

Brett Baldauf

 

Coffee with the sunrise, eyes to new skies,

‘tis there we see what sight would hide:

belief becoming, all that we could make,

a community on earth that cannot break.

 

–Brett Baldauf

***

bjorns-introduction

Björn Sparrman

Björn Sparrman

 

 

Previewing Fritz Haeg’s Foraging Circle

While one quadrant of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was abuzz this past Thursday with the opening night of Walker on the Green an artist-designed mini golf course, another corner found folks gathered under Foraging Circle a recently commissioned artwork by artist Fritz Haeg who was also on site for a meet and greet. Foraging Circle is a garden of perennials with […]

Foraging Circle 1

While one quadrant of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was abuzz this past Thursday with the opening night of Walker on the Green an artist-designed mini golf course, another corner found folks gathered under Foraging Circle a recently commissioned artwork by artist Fritz Haeg who was also on site for a meet and greet.

Foraging Cirlce 4

Foraging Circle is a garden of perennials with domestic uses, from fruit trees to medicinal herbs, and within it a geodesic dome that serves as a place to converse and relax. Developed in concert with the residency project Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City, this permanent garden space will serve as a headquarters for upcoming public programs and events related to urban agriculture, foraging, horticulture, and food production throughout the summer. While not officially open to the public until June 1st when it debuts at Free First Saturday, there was a small preview party for project interns, Walker staff, artists and members of the local gardening community.

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The quintessential host, Fritz provided a warm welcome with his delicious homemade spelt bread, topped with locally-sourced jams and honey.

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While basking in the warm evening sun we listened as Fritz spoke about the project and the plants lining Foraging Circle.

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Caught in a cross-over moment with (from left to right) Walker’s Director of Education and Curator of Public Practice, Sarah Schultz, Jeffrey Sugarman, and artist David Lefkowitz co-creator of the Walker on the Green mini-golf hole, 18 Holes in One: Collapsing the Masters Narrative. 

Foraging Circle 6

Fritz showing the Schoenherr family the new design plan for their front yard in preparation for the installation of Edible Estate #15.

Orchid Care with Walker Home & Garden Club

Despite what the calendar says, spring hasn’t yet sprung in Minnesota. While waiting for the snow to melt and the soil to dry, Walker staff in the Home & Garden Club have found alternative ways to satisfy their green thumbs–orchids! Editor Kathleen McLean, who’s amazing at making sure every Walker publication is grammatically on track, […]

Walker designer and orchid expert, Andrea Hyde.

Walker designer and orchid expert, Andrea Hyde.

Despite what the calendar says, spring hasn’t yet sprung in Minnesota. While waiting for the snow to melt and the soil to dry, Walker staff in the Home & Garden Club have found alternative ways to satisfy their green thumbs–orchids! Editor Kathleen McLean, who’s amazing at making sure every Walker publication is grammatically on track, is equally gifted in keeping a loving and watchful eye on the orchids that adorn our office space. Known as the “Orchid Whisperer,” Kathleen recently led the group in a re-potting lesson over the lunch hour.

Learning the how-tos of raising a proper Phalaenopsis (a common type of orchid) was a pleasant change of pace from the  mental multitasking done at our desks. As we followed Kathleen’s lead and delicately removed the old moss and bark from the roots of the orchids we brought in from home, our hands and attention were fully absorbed. We became immersed in the space of the orchids, our peers, and the FlatPak, a light-filled pre-fab house in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Some of us came to the table with a well-established love of orchids, especially designer Andrea Hyde. Andrea has had a healthy obsession with the plant since childhood, when she and her brother would enter their prize specimens to the Minnesota State Fair. At one point Andrea kept around 70 orchids, all in one room of her home, which demanded she spend the better part of her Sunday taking care of them.

So what’s so alluring about orchids? To see one, the answer comes simply: they’re beautiful. If you own one, the answer is more expansive: they’re patient, their bloom period is lengthy, and they’re easy to keep alive–although admittedly my orchid was suffering at the hands of its owner (see photo below). They’re also delicate but hearty, not surprising considering they occur in a wide range of habitats, from the tropics to parts of Minnesota!

What I learned in the course of that hour, was hardly as important as how I learned it and with whom. The experience of slowing down with my colleagues, of getting our hands dirty, and appreciating the expertise of one another through the lens of orchid care, transformed our collective state of being. It felt  radical to indulge in this simple pleasure together.

Walker Home & Garden Club will share its love and knowledge of orchids with the public during the run of  Fritz Haeg’s upcoming exhibition, Domestic Integrities A05More information to come in the months ahead. 

Assistant Curator, Eric Crosby carefully removing the old moss around the root system.

Assistant Curator, Eric Crosby carefully removing the old moss around the root system.

The author's orchid is being resuscitated back to proper health.

The author’s orchid is being resuscitated back to proper health.

A collection of happy re-potted orchids in the Walker's office space.

A collection of happy re-potted orchids in the Walker’s office space.

A Faucet Dripping in the Room Next Door: An Interview with Tan Lin by Eric Lorberer

Tan Lin appears at the Walker Art Center on Thursday March 28 as part of the Free Verse series copresented by the Walker and Rain Taxi Review of Books.  Q: You began publishing as a poet, but your work increasingly tends to refuse traditional classifications.  How unimportant is genre for what you’re up to? It’s […]

Tan Lin appears at the Walker Art Center on Thursday March 28 as part of the Free Verse series copresented by the Walker and Rain Taxi Review of Books

Q: You began publishing as a poet, but your work increasingly tends to refuse traditional classifications.  How unimportant is genre for what you’re up to?

It’s funny. I never really wanted to write something more than once, so that makes genre an interesting concept to inhabit for awhile before departing, and of course a door is an evocative thing. Genres are time sensitive—they wear out. A menu in a restaurant wears out before the amuse bouche arrives, but a work of literature is regarded as something that takes a bit more time. But this is changing. I think works of literature should be structured more like RSS feeds or Yelp restaurant reviews, i.e. I am more interested in literature as a highly transient event rather than a timeless architectural structure, and most of my work has moved toward more diffuse forms of reading across a host of different platforms, and multiple genres, some of which are related to hardware and some to software. Literature has always been atmospheric—I just wanted to do this more literally. Likewise, genres emerge out of mediums, and mediums absorb various genres. I mean what is 7CV besides a book and what is Bibliographic Sound Track, which transpires in PowerPoint—quite a few other things are suggested. Are these two works poetry, nonfiction or a novel? What is the minimum amount of information needed to codify a reading as genre-specific? I’m just finishing up an Index to a group of photographs by Diana Kingsley. I think of the work as autobiography of photographs taken by someone else. Here is a spread:

TanDiana_Sample-6

Q: When did you start incorporating visual art into your literary work?

About 15 years ago, when I first started compiling a long prose work called Our Feelings Were Made by Hand. And then of course the PPT works and the films in Director are visual works that foreground long term, durational reading procedures or interactions. Kenny Goldsmith had me in to MoMA last week to do a reading in their galleries and I read against Donald Judd’s Untitled 1976. Language is a reflected thing surrounded by other reflected things. And of course the surface of a sculpture by Donald Judd, which was given a coat of very thin motorcycle paint, is prone to high flouresence and deterioration. I was particularly interested in the break down of nitrocellulose paints as they relate to the leakage of descriptions that is a text into a room, in this case, a conservation text (on a Judd sculpture restoration), along with a few plays by Kieran Daly and some poems by Frank Kuenstler. A poem is not much different from a faucet dripping in the room next door. Or a particular shade of paint that was a slightly different shade ten minutes or ten years ago.

Q: You’re also known for writing “ambient” fiction—were you influenced by Eno and other ambient musicians?

I was more influenced by a later generation of ambient house musics, like Pole, Oval, Apparat, Ellen Allien, Fourtet, Kruder & Dorfmeister, b. fleischmann, as well as by disco and certain kinds of electronic music, particularly Stockhausen, perhaps a bit more than Eno—though I have read Eno subsequent to developing notions of ambience in literature and it’s certainly present in the work—it’s just that I came to him a little late. But yes of course he infuses the whole project.

Q: In a similar vein, would you say your work has ties to abstract painting?

I am not so interested in abstract painting, unless you consider someone like Gerhard Richter abstract. Most artists who I have followed worked across disciplines that directly intersected with book production—Hans Peter Feldmann, Allen Ruppersberg, Joseph Strau, Christopher Williams, Michael Reidel, Broodthaers, and Pavel Buchler. But then of course I was just as interested in Hella Jongerius, Metahaven, Rem Koolhaas, Matali Crasset, and Konstatin Grcic.

Q: Your books draw on everything from actor Heath Ledger to The Joy of Cooking. Why are real world, often pop-cultural phenomena so important for you?

Because they intersect with the life of the person who happens to be writing something at the moment she is writing—and in that way they are transpiring in the writing. Usually, people try to keep this stuff out of their writing because it’s extraneous, but I think it defines writing and its contours. Writing is defined by what it is not. Whatever the writing thing is, when you focus on something and develop it as its own independent thing, well I try not to do that. I prefer a literature that is more incidental and less egotistical. You know that writing thing you do (to rephrase Whit Stilmann), don’t do it.

Q: You’re working on a book about the writings of Andy Warhol.  How’s that going?

Here is the first paragraph: it’s on the Shadows and their connection to second order cybernetics theory and disco:

Andy Warhol’s Shadows, a series of 102 paintings that Warhol completed in 1978 and first exhibited in 1979, are notable for the marriage of an abstract and somber serial painting sequence to a somewhat incongruous popular cultural format: disco. “Someone asked me if they were art and I said no. You see, the opening party had disco. I guess that makes them disco décor.”[1] Despite the seeming disparity, disco and the Shadows arose out of the same fluid cultural matrix that included the New York art and experimental film worlds, as well as the club scene, both straight and gay, of the mid- to late-70’s. Although the translation of cultural practices associated with disco into a species of low art reflects Warhol’s discomfiture as a swish artist in a non-swish art world, his interest in disco was anything but superficial or ironic. Moreover, his use of disco and its various appliances coincided with a number of crucial medial transitions in his practice—most notably from the spectacular and specular dread of (accident) photos and (botulism poisoning) newspaper headlines of his 60’s work to what Warhol deemed were new medial forms of excitement grounded in the stroboscopic, 4-on-the-floor disco parties at Studio 54, and in Warhol’s explorations of what Callie Angell has called “the conventions of television,” whose serial, always-on transmission proved influential in the development of Warhol’s “accumulative” cinema, and his quasi-derisory conception of avant garde practice.[2] As Warhol noted, like disco and unlike painting, “TV never goes off the air once it starts for the day, and I don’t either.” (P 5) Both disco and TV served as fertile staging grounds for Warhol’s probing of accumulative/durational mediums without beginning or end, and of the increasingly porous boundaries between high avant-garde production and popular culture, and thus provide a lens on Warhol’s last decade. As his chronicling of Studio 54 in Exposures (1979) and the Palladium in Andy Warhol’s Party Book (1988), as well as his on-going fantasies of a TV show called “Nothing Special” make clear, disco and TV presaged a new logic for the calibration of the New York avant garde art scene along specific medial lines, and they inaugurated a new media context for parsing the irrelevance of the high-low divide. Here the Shadows are exemplary, at once popular and mainstreamed—as well as somber, abstract and camouflaged.

 

 


[1] Warhol Shadows. (Houston: The Menil Foundation, 1987), unpaginated.

[2] On Warhol’s interest in TV, see Callie Angell, “Andy Warhol, Filmmaker,” in The Andy Warhol Museum, (New York: DAP Press, 1994), 139-140. Hereafter, AWM

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