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Artists Respond to Fluxus

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField.  This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978  and Radical […]

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField.  This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978  and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, both containing a strong Fluxus presence.

We invited a range of artists to create projects or events for Open Field inspired by or in some cases in reaction to the works, philosophy, and cosmology of Fluxus.  FluxField artists included Beatrix Jar (Bianca Pettis and Jacob Aaron Roske), BodyCartography Project (Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad), Andy Ducett, Mike Haeg, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Chris Kallmyer, Maria Mortati, and Margaret Pezalla-Granlund. The indomitable Laurie Van Wieren also jumped into the flux fray with her Open Field piece, 4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside.  Key Fluxus figures Alison Knowles and Benjamin Patterson were invited to perform their work during the summer and fall.

We asked several of these FluxField artists to share their thoughts on working with Fluxus, and what follows is a compilation of their responses.


 Part One: What is Fluxus?

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Alison Knowles walks down Nicollet Mall with Jacob Aaron Roske, photo by Lacey Criswell

Fluxus is People

I think of Fluxus first and foremost as the loose network of artists in the late 1950s into ’60s who first carried the name – who understood art as inseparable from everyday life, and vice versa, and performed lots of public experiments accordingly. And who also constantly disagreed with each other about what “Fluxus” was about. I think of names like John Cage, George Maciunas, Alison Knowles, George Brecht, Nam June Paik. So in that sense, I think Fluxus is people.

Rachel Jendrzejewski

Fluxus began as a network of ad-hoc, often disputed, orchestrated acts that turned noticing into craft. These orchestrations were performed around the world, and have infected all fields of art.

Maria Mortati

Maria Mortati's FluxField Interpretive Trail

Maria Mortati’s FluxField Interpretive Trail

Fluxus is the Score

If you were to say one true thing about Fluxus, you could say that Fluxus is about the primary experience itself. The vehicle for exploring the now moment in Fluxus is through the Event Score or the Fluxkit. To create a score, we have to envision ourselves as someone uninitiated with our ideas. We put ourselves in the shoes of another person—an act of empathy—and we offer an experience to anybody who would invest time to decode the document and act it out in real time and space. A score is a set of rules for engagement. It is the same for a recipe, a manual, or a blueprint.

Chris Kallmyer

Event Scores involve simple actions, ideas, and objects from everyday life re-contextualized as performance. Event Scores are texts that can be seen as proposal pieces or instructions for actions. The idea of the score suggests musicality. Like a musical score, Event Scores can be realized by artists other than the original creator and are open to variation and interpretation.

Alison Knowles (via Chris Kallmyer)

Through the Fluxus score, I find a great closeness in the contract between the artist and participant.

Mike Haeg

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Rachel Jendrzejewski’s Walker Yam: 100 Scores for Open Field, photo by Steve Cohen

Fluxus is Contradiction

I think of Fluxus as a kind of fluid philosophy and practice, which is still very much alive today— a view that art is indeed inseparable from everyday life, and vice versa, and an embrace of constant contradiction. You can’t actually pin Fluxus down because it’s always moving:  Fluxus says that all of life is art, and yet it’s deliberate in its framing and rigor; Fluxus says that art is for everyone, but it’s not necessarily people-pleasing or meaningful;  Fluxus simultaneously disowns and embraces institutions, not to mention the very concept of “art.” And I believe all those contradictions are exactly what makes it true to everyday life- it’s a way of seeing that embraces the complexities of the world, that doesn’t pretend anyone or anything is static.

–Rachel Jendrzejewski

Fluxus is an insular form speaking to the art world’s nuanced concepts of the object, vision, and experience. Simultaneously, Fluxus is an open initiation to life and living, enabling the public to take the scores into their own everyday.

–Chris Kallmyer

In the words of founding Fluxus member Ben Vautier, “Fluxus was a pain in art’s ass.”

–Maria Mortati

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Chris Kallmyer’s Play Catch, All Together, photo by Gene Pittman

Fluxus is Experience and Togetherness

Fluxus is changing together.

—Mike Haeg

Wandering in a field is experiential, and fit the notion that I needed– for people to be, do, and have the opportunity to ‘participate’ as well as reflect; to take in and try it on for size, in a low stakes way.  The public wandered along, beer in hand, taking a picture or two. Near the “Play Ball” score, a giant poodle took off with all the balls. In the end, the question of “What Is Fluxus?” came down to experiences.

—Maria Mortati

[Fluxus Drawing Club] didn’t just point at the art history and try to teach someone something, but facilitated doing — and that doing was the Fluxus part. The doing — everyone doing — is the art part and the experience part; the understanding part, and the “it” of it.

Margaret Pezalla-Granlund

 Part 2: Why Fluxus?

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Chris Kallmyer leads catch with lemons, photo by Gene Pittman

I’ve always been drawn to Fluxus for the way it can both disrupt us from and draw us deeper into everyday life. Those sound like two different actions, but both are wake-up calls. I particularly love the early Fluxus event scores – the text as well as the actual doing of them. They feel simultaneously sacred and disposable, which I think signals a certain kind of wisdom – related to loving fully while not clinging too hard, or honoring all life while accepting nothing lasts forever, or keeping a healthy sense of humor about serious hard things – in short, getting comfortable with letting contradictions co-exist. I think our culture could use way more of all that, hence the ongoing appeal and relevance of Fluxus.

–Rachel Jendrzejewski

I’m inspired by the playfulness of Fluxus and the simplicity. But most of all, I’m moved by Fuxus’ spirit of kindness and revolution: change the world with a box full of smile– hell yes!

–Mike Haeg

I saw the original Walker Art Center Fluxus show years and years ago, and have remembered and thought about it often since. What has stuck with me is the sense of wide-ranging curiosity and creativity, the willingness to cede some seriousness to get at something engaging, and the feeling of wit and humor and shared experience. I also think it’s really smart: as much as Fluxus was about freedom and play, it was also about context and care and a kind of precision. Simple is not easy.

–Margaret Pezalla

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Mike Haeg’s Fluxus Running Club, photo by Gabby Coll

This is the thing that surprised me about the Event Scores: the works are a direct invitation to play, as well as an invitation to presence. Serious focus and purposeless play are both intensely human and increasingly rare. Goofing off is another form of presence, or rather a complete lack of presence when we abandon our veneer to embrace a purposeless sense of wonder. We goof off and are human. In this way, Fluxus and their Event Scores point to our human condition in a way that is wildly dynamic. The score is an invitation, a call to action, and first-hand study and performance of these scores would be healthy for any of us.

–Chris Kallmyer

Part Three: Making Something Out of Fluxus

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Mike Haeg’s Penny Event, photo by Gabby Coll

Fluxus is all about change right? So, why not shine a spotlight on change? That’s why I made the Penny Event change tray sculpture emblazoned with its inherent and unintentional score “LEAVE-A-PENNY / TAKE-A-PENNY”. I placed the pieces on the counters in gas stations and bodegas to spark an artful exchange in an unexpected moment of the day and to spark a thought of commerce at a point of give and take that has been obscured by the credit process.

–Mike Haeg

I’ll be the first to admit that “living the life of the idea” of Fluxus was not something that came easily. On projects I take the deep dive into the world of the place, space, or community until I can swim around with it. It was a harder start to get my brain around and into Fluxus. I am accustomed to museums wanting to pin things down, so working with the antithesis was both liberating and focusing. It sharpened my thinking around the historical trajectory of social practice art, and around opportunities to bring the public into art and vice versa.

–Maria Mortati

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Walker Yam: 100 Scores for Open Field, photo by Steve Cohen

My performance/writing practice is a kind of awareness practice, and Fluxus always has served as an influence in that sense, but I’ve never really written Fluxus-style scores. Talking with Sarah Schultz about why Fluxus matters in 2014, and how Fluxus might live in Minneapolis on the Open Field, made me want to write my own Fluxus-inspired scores to find out. I spent a lot of time reading through the Fluxus Performance Workbook, and I started writing my own scores in response to some of them, and then spinning off some of them, and then writing some completely removed from them. I wrote them quickly (and I don’t usually write quickly) because I really wanted to let them be disposable. I wrote them on the bus and in my apartment and in parks and on an airplane. I thought a lot about the field, and people coming and going from the field to other places. I edited them down to a batch of 100 that felt the most rooted in this time and city. I don’t know why the number 100 felt right — but it feels like just the beginning. Now I want to write 1000.

–Rachel Jendrzejewski


Benjamin Patterson, a key figure in the Fluxus network of artists, visits the Walker on October 9 as part of the exhibit Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art.  Art Expanded, 1958-1978, which explore the expanded arts of the 1960’s and 70’s, is on view through March of 2015, and includes the work of Alison Knowles and George Macunias, among other notable Fluxus figures.

4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField.  This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978  and Radical […]

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField.  This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978  and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, both containing a strong Fluxus presence.

We invited a range of artists to create projects or events for Open Field inspired by or in some cases in reaction to the works, philosophy, and cosmology of Fluxus.  FluxField artists included Beatrix Jar (Bianca Pettis and Jacob Aaron Roske), BodyCartography Project (Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad), Andy Ducett, Mike Haeg, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Chris Kallmyer, Maria Mortati, and Margaret Pezalla-Granlund. Key Fluxus figures Alison Knowles and Benjamin Patterson were invited to perform their work during the summer and fall.

Choreographer and curator Laurie Van Wieren also jumped into the flux fray with her Open Field piece, 4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside, a celebration of the Twin Cities’ thriving dance scene. She describes the process of putting together the piece below.


Laurie Van Wieren prepares the audience for the coming event

by Laurie Van Wieren

When Laura Holway, coordinator of Walker Open Field, asked me if I had anything that I might want to share this summer, I realized I knew something that most people aren’t aware of: there are more than 350 dance-making entities in the Twin Cities. I suspected that, if I designed a structure that lasted just 30-minutes and was very clear about the parameters, I just might be able to gather together 100 choreographers at Walker Open Field on a Saturday afternoon. This was a chance to demonstrate the diversity and quantity of choreographers in the Twin Cities, as well as to explore my own dual role as choreographer and curator.

Background

My connection with the Walker Art Center started early on in my life in the Twin Cities. I was a guard at the Walker, and as a dancer and visual artist, I was influenced by many of the choreographers and performance artists that came through, including the Fluxus artists. My first work of choreography was presented at a Walker Choreographers Evening in 1981– a dance made up of looped gestures, performed by my fellow guards (artists themselves) within a grid pattern.

Dance community members reunite, including Molly Van Avery, Chris Garza, Baraka de Soleil and J. Otis Powell

Dance community members reunite, including Molly Van Avery, Chris Garza, Baraka de Soleil and J. Otis Powell

I have been working as a choreographer and performance artist in the Twin Cities since then. Ten years ago we didn’t have many places to show works in progress or talk about dance work, so I started 9×22 Dance/Lab at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater. Every month, I invite three dance-makers to show and discuss their work. With that experience, I stepped into the role of curator at the Southern Theater, and then the Ritz Theater. My hope was to help grow the presence of dance in those venues. Unfortunately both of these mid-sized theaters have folded as presenting institutions, and are now struggling to find their footing.

The numerous props are set for 4x4=100 Dancing Outside

The numerous props are set for 4×4=100 Dancing Outside

For artists and choreographers, it is a new, not-so-brave world. The low economy pushed performing art onto the back burner in the minds of the audience community. Yet, the artists are still out there creating work in ever more expansive ways, as well as blurring the lines between presenting, producing, curating and making art directly. To survive and thrive, dance artists are compelled to create new models all the time. I am hoping that we can find new ways to sustain ourselves. Until then, we work with what is in front of us.

Motivation and Logistics

The impulse to create 4×4=100 Choreographers Dancing Outside came from a handful of different ideas and influences: an interest in experimenting with Curation-as-Choreography and the artist as curator; my visual arts background; the Fluxus score; my interest in compositions of live action. I am especially proud of being a part of an extremely engaged and active dance community. I wanted to showcase this profusion of talent. For me, curation is about making space and time for artists to do their own specialized work. I created parameters within the piece that allowed all participants to simultaneously perform their own dance and be seen within a large community group.

The choreographers parade into the chalked grid, including Arwen Wilder, Sharon Picasso, Kristin Van loon, Morgan Thorson, Deborah Jinza Thayer, Stacy Sabin, Dylan Fresco, Chris Schlichting, Max Wirsing, Emily Gastineau, Chris Holman, Neel and Pramila Vasudevan, April Sellers, Judith Howard, Megan Mayer, Matt Regan, Paul Stucker, and Anat Shinar

The choreographers parade into the chalked grid, including Arwen Wilder, Sharon Picasso, Kristin Van loon, Morgan Thorson, Deborah Jinza Thayer, Stacy Sabin, Dylan Fresco, Chris Schlichting, Max Wirsing, Emily Gastineau, Chris Holman, Neel and Pramila Vasudevan, April Sellers, Judith Howard, Megan Mayer, Matt Regan, Paul Stucker, and Anat Shinar

This summer’s Open Field had ties to the Fluxus art movement, which felt like a happy coincidence. My interest in Fluxus started in art school, where I was drawn to the work of John Cage and Yoko Ono. In 1993, I was invited to work with Fluxus artist and archivist Larry Miller on the Walker exhibit In the Spirit of Fluxus. We performed the scores of Alison Knowles, George Maciunas, Dick Higgins, Lamonte Young, Emmett Williams, Yoko Ono and more. I loved that the actions of the Fluxus scores were simple and restrained, but also exciting and fun; every Fluxus artist seemed to have their own style of putting a score together. Fluxus influenced 4×4=100 Dancing Outside in a number of ways, from the organization of the grid pattern, to the simple score (or set of instructions) described below.

Akiko Ostlund and the other 30 minute performers begin

Akiko Ostlund and the other 30 minute performers begin

The piece was an open call, with a notice put in the dancemn newsletter and on Facebook. The first week of the notices, 25 people signed up. By the middle of June there were 80, and one week before the show, 100—plus a waiting list. Some people had to drop out at the last minute, and all waitlisted folks got in. In the end we had exactly 100 choreographers.

Dustin Maxwell cuts a piece of grass

Dustin Maxwell cuts pieces of grass

Each choreographer was instructed to perform in an assigned 4’x4’ space, within a larger 40’x40’ square for one of three intervals: 10, 20 or 30 minutes. There were no restrictions or stipulations on what they performed (it could be an improvisation or finished work or anything else), other than that they stay exactly within their 4’x4’ space. There were no group rehearsals, although the performers were invited to practice on the field if they chose.

100 Outside

Judith Howard and April Sellers spray paint squares outside of the 40'x40' space

Judith Howard and April Sellers spray paint squares outside of the 40’x40′ space

The night before the performance, Laura Holway and I created the grid with a baseball field chalking machine, aided by the very helpful math and spatial skills of Jael O’Hare. Fortunately, it didn’t rain…yet.

Pramila Vasudevan and her son Neel in their 4'x4' space

Pramila Vasudevan and her son Neel in their 4’x4′ space

The next day all 100 choreographers showed up, raring to go. We talked through the score, made sure that everyone knew the location of their assigned square, and set props. It was a quite pleasant day; the weather folks predicted showers later in the afternoon, but we remained undaunted. The group prepared to parade towards the grid, dancers costumed in bright, beautiful and sometimes extravagant attire. It was a cacophony of riotous color. And then, 8 minutes before show time a very dark and ominous cloud parked itself immediately on top of us.  With this not-so-subtle prompt, I started us off early. As the large mass of choreographers and dancers moved up the hill, the dark cloud began to leak. Out went the 30-minute performers. The rain quickened, and I sent out the 20-minute performers early. Suddenly the steady sprinkle became a downpour and the audience, surrounding all sides of the 40’x40’ grid, grabbed their umbrellas and let out a collective shout… and NOT ONE PERSON LEFT!

Deborah Jinza Thayer pours water over her head

Deborah Jinza Thayer pours water over her head

Jennifer Arave performing as the rain begins

Jennifer Arave performing as the rain begins

Erika Hansen dances, surrounded by Courtney Baga, Leah Nelson, Galen Higgins, Dylan Fresco and HIJACK

Erika Hansen dances, surrounded by Courtney Baga, Leah Nelson, Galen Higgins, Dylan Fresco and HIJACK

It poured buckets! The wonderfully diverse (and drenched) mix of dancers stayed and continued to perform with even more focus: modern, post-modern, ballet, Cuban folk, belly dancing, character dancing, jazz, Flamenco, percussion, Butoh-like, comic…and more. From the audience, the group felt like an orchestra: you could pick out one dancer, or take in the whole group. Everyone became more themselves in the rain. With a frenzied concentration, it was wild, wonderful, glorious and transformative. The wind whipped up; the skies became even more ominous. The Walker Security bellowed over their loudspeakers, “You must clear the field now!!!” When I heard something about a tornado, I cut the piece short…not wanting to wipe out a large part of the dance community in one fell swoop. The performers bowed. After a speedy group photo, we all ran for the Walker lobby.

Members of the first and second groups dance together, including Jael O'Hare, Robert Borman, Meriam Colvin, Sherry Saterstrom, Jennifer Arave, Stacy Sabin, Morgan Thorson, Heather Klopchin, and Edna Stevens waiting to go on

Members of the first and second groups dance together, including Jael O’Hare, Robert Borman, Meriam Colvin, Sherry Saterstrom, Jennifer Arave, Stacy Sabin, Morgan Thorson, Heather Klopchin, and Edna Stevens waiting to go on

The audience huddles as the rain increases

The audience huddles as the rain increases

Pam Plagge performs a set of dances from the Orisha tradition, including a rain dance, while her teacher Rene Thompson looks on; Billy Mullaney reaches new heights on his ladder

Pam Plagge performs a set of dances from the Orisha tradition, including a rain dance, while her teacher Rene Thompson looks on

Dancers in the pouring rain, including Kenna Cottman, Kaleena Miller, Sherry Saterstrom, Mary Easter, Charles Campbell, Jennifer Ilse, Penny Freeh, Maggie Bergeron, Jeff Wells and Tom Kanthak

Dancers in the pouring rain, including Kenna Cottman, Kaleena Miller, Sherry Saterstrom, Mary Easter, Charles Campbell, Jennifer Ilse, Penny Freeh, Maggie Bergeron, Jeff Wells and Tom Kanthak

Reflecting

At the beginning of the project, Laura Holway asked me what audience members could expect the piece to look and sound like. I responded: A mass of chaos and beauty, framed. It will sound like Conlon Nancarrow, John Cage, Britney Spears, birds calling and children yelling. It might remind people of a flash mob, but an anti flash mob- no one will be dancing the same way- they will be doing their own singular work at the same time as everyone else, in the same very 40×40 foot grid.

This was all very accurate, but with torrential rain and more joy!

The audience joins in for the annual dance community photo

The audience joins in for the annual dance community photo

To all the participants: Thank you so much for coming out and taking a chance on being involved in the piece. You were fantastic! It was a joy to watch you collectively and individually. It was obvious that we have a hunger to convene; let’s find more ways to do it.

To the Walker: Open Field is an outstanding project, and it was great to be involved. I cannot say enough about how encouraging and helpful you were! Thank you especially to Sarah Schultz, the Education and Community Programs staff, Walker interns, and Laura Holway.

4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside included the choreography of

Berit Ahlgren, Arlys Alford, Gabriel Anderson, Nika Antuanette, Jennifer Arave, Courtney Baga, Emma Barber, Maggie Bergeron, Bonnie Berquam, Olive Bieringa, Blake Bolan, Young-Tse Bolon, Robert Borman, Emma Buechs, Tim Cameron, Charles Campbell, Tom Carlson, Mike Cohn, Miriam Colvin, Beverly Cottman, Kenna Cottman, Angharad Davies, Ryan Dean, Baraka de Soleil, Mary Easter, Torre Edahl, Rachael Freeburg, Penney Freeh, Dylan Fresco, Emily Gastineau, Lazer Goese, Izzi Gorowsky, Susanne Grochett, Robert Haarman, Marilyn Habermas-Scher, Annika Hansen, Erika Hansen, Lara Hanson, Deborah Heltzer, Galen Higgins, Chris Holman, Judith Howard, Alison Hoyer, Colette Ilarde, Jennifer Ilse, Kalila Indiver, Margaret E. Johnson, Justin Jones, Tom Kanthak, Ellen Keane, Robert Keo, Missa Kes, Tara King, Heather Klopchin, Amy Lamphere, Nick LeMere, Jim Lieberthal, Erin Liebhard, Jennifer Mack, Theresa Madaus, Megan Mayer, Dustin Maxwell, Kaleena Miller, Julia Moser-Hardy, Kara Motta, Motion Arts, Billy Mullaney, Blake Nellis, Leah Nelson, Jael O’Hare, Akiko Ostlund, Jane Peck, Sharon Picasso, Pam Plagge, Otto Ramstad, Matthew Regan, Sally Rousse, Stacy Sabin, Sherry Saterstrom, Chris Schlichting, April Sellers, Anat Shiner, Sean Smuda, Darius Strong, Paul Stucker, Deborah Jinza Thayer, Jennifer Theodore, Monica Thomas, Morgan Thorson, Svitlana Shtilman, Michael Sommers, Edna Stevens, Kristin Van Loon, Pramila Vasudevan, Vanessa Voskuil, Jeff Wells, Arwen Wilder, Josie Winship, Christopher Yaeger, and Nan Zosel.


Benjamin Patterson, a key figure in the Fluxus network of artists, visits the Walker on October 9 as part of the exhibitRadical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art.  Art Expanded, 1958-1978, which explore the expanded arts of the 1960’s and 70’s, is on view through March of 2015, and includes the work of Alison Knowles and George Macunias, among other notable Fluxus figures.

A FluxField Research Residency

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField. This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978 and Radical […]

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField. This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978 and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, both containing a strong Fluxus presence.

We invited a range of artists to create projects or events for Open Field inspired by or in some cases in reaction to the works, philosophy, and cosmology of Fluxus. FluxField artists included Beatrix JAR (Bianca Pettis and Jacob Aaron Roske), BodyCartography Project (Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad), Andy Ducett, Mike Haeg, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Chris Kallmyer, Maria Mortati, Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, and Jenni Undis. The indomitable Laurie Van Wieren also jumped into the flux fray with her Open Field piece, 4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside. Key Fluxus figures Alison Knowles and Benjamin Patterson were invited to perform their work during the summer and fall.

In the post below, museum exhibit designer and Walker artist-in-residence Maria Mortati shares the process behind her summer FluxField projects.


 

AllArt-resized

A score from FluxField Interpretive Trail

by Maria Mortati

This past summer Sarah Schultz and the Open Field team invited me to come to the Walker and consider the movement Fluxus. This research-based residency encompassed three projects: transforming the Star Tribune Foundation Art Lab into a visitor and residency space; creating a mobile cart for use in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; a series of Fluxus-based projects that I developed for Open Field, including an installation known as FluxField Interpretive Trail.

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Cart developed for staff and visiting artists, photo by Gene Pittman

Living the Life of the Idea

“Living the life of the idea” was an expression that Sarah put forth as a sort of central challenge as I approached Fluxus. I soon learned that it was not something that came easily; Fluxus led me down several rabbit holes.

I am a San Francisco-based museum exhibit designer with an affinity for social practice. When I work on projects, I take the deep dive into the world of the place, space, or community until I can comfortably swim around with it. Often my work with museums involves engaging arts movements through the lens of the originating historical moment. Fluxus, however, is about a series of moments amongst a distributed group of artists that don’t necessarily agree on what the movement is, so it got messy fast.

Since Fluxus artists never seem to agree on anything, Fluxus has become “a pain in art’s ass” in the words of Fluxus artist Ben Vautier.

Hannah Higgins, Fluxus Experience

 Considering an Art Movement is an Endeavor Best Shared

Before coming to Minneapolis, Chris Kallmyer (another San Francisco-based FluxField artist) and I met a few times a month to prepare for our residencies. He would explore ideas and approaches around working with (or through) Fluxus, and I wrestled with how to engage with an amorphous movement through my practice. We took a stab at writing a Manifesto for Field Lab Residencies, which seemed to fit with Fluxus philosophies. This manifesto reinforced the first rule of residency: a freedom from externally imposed constraints—especially the traditional constraints of museum exhibition development.

need sod - portrait

Another FluxField Interpretive Trail score

In anticipation of the summer, Chris and I came to the Walker for a week in March.  A group of local artists were invited to learn more about the work we were doing, and to think about FluxField projects of their own. We had freeform conversations around Fluxus philosophies and possibilities for our work. It was evident that choosing these artists was an act of curation and subtle matching-making on Sarah Schultz’s behalf. Three of them, Mike HaegMargaret Pezalla-Granlund and Jenni Undis, became collaborators on my summer projects.

Access is a museum’s jewel, and our group was invited to intimately examine the Walker’s Fluxus collection while talking with Registrar Dave Bartley. Viewing this material oriented me towards the historic, intellectual and social craft of Fluxus. It’s ironic to think that a movement so ephemeral could inspire with its bits of paper and odd performances.

fluxus artifact review

Artifact viewing with Walker staff and visiting artists

I’m a Misfit and so are We

At the Walker Library I came across reviews and articles about the “Festival of Misfits.” It was billed as an event “…by people who sometimes… are artists, sometimes not… we make music… that may fit poetry, poetry that may fit paintings, paintings that may fit… something.” Much of that content was formative for my work. In their humor and rigor, I began to see a trajectory from Fluxus towards experimental museum projects and social practice. My prior work in the experimental realm has included the Giant Hand at the Hammer Museum, and the Big Table Gallery at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Giant Hand pushed against the framework of the museum experience, and the Big Table pushed against ways to convey a concept in contemporary art (vs. a work of art) to the public.

This type of project is often difficult, working against traditional definitions of a museum and how it operates. But this is where the innovations and interesting questions lie. Like these previous projects, Fluxus was able to collectively play in the space of uncertainty.

Scores for People Who Don’t Know How to Write Scores

Sarah encouraged me to use event scores as a central part of my endeavors so I wanted to have a suite of experiences rather than a singular one. This seemed truer to Fluxus and left room for differences in subjectivity and different types of visitors.

As I researched, I kept coming back to this notion that Fluxus artists were making art out of noticing everyday moments and realized how ridiculous they would think things are today: we notice and share everything. Regardless, I’m old enough to know the world before cheap electronics and Ikea. Moments lasted beyond a tweet and were often reflective and quiet in nature, if not sound. Fluxus was where these artists began to share moments, through scores written, mailed, reinterpreted and performed around the globe.

fluxus drawing club score box

Score box for Fluxus Drawing Club (Mortati/Pezalla)

Finding a Path

The pieces of my projects for Open Field came together organically. Drawing Club, a collaborative and participatory drawing event, was already a weekly Open Field program, and I decided to create a Fluxus Drawing Club. I worked on this in collaboration with Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, one of the local FluxField artists, who seemed to share an affinity with Fluxus in both concept and craft. Together we wrote, shared, edited and designed scores, making and distributing a series of Flux Kits with light instructions printed inside. I also asked Margaret and her family to make a recording of Dick Higgins’ book A Child’s History of Fluxus, as background for the evening of projects. You can listen to it here.

While planning this Open Field programming, I realized that displaying artifacts or defining Fluxus for the public wasn’t possible or appropriate: Fluxus is a constellation of orchestrated moments and experiences, and a way of thinking. But wandering in a field, just like Fluxus Drawing Club, is experiential. It fit my intentions by allowing the public to participate in Fluxus in a low-stakes way.

For me, Open Field + Fluxus = FluxField Interpretive Trail.

I generated scores that were letter pressed by local printmaker Jenni Undis to capture the Fluxus philosophy of art that was “neither an exhibition of objects or a performance, but somewhere in between.” (George Brecht, Wikipedia).  My scores included commentary on Fluxus (“The most ambiguous club in the art world”), quotes from founding Fluxus artists, and field observations (“Need Sod”). Humorous #hashtags became an organizing principle of the trail, helping the public understand if the scores were foundational, descriptive, or invitational.

FluxField Interpretive Trail began with George Maciunas

FluxField Interpretive Trail began with George Maciunas

On the culminating evening of my residency, scores were installed on low stakes and throughout the field. Members of the public wandered along the giant trail of scores, beer in hand, taking a picture or two. A giant poodle took off with the balls stationed next to the Play Ball score. Artist Mike Haeg’s Penny Event was incorporated around the edges of the field adjacent to the trail, which caused delight and confusion. At Fluxus Drawing Club, participants sat and worked at length on their score drawings and children happily stamped “Official Fluxus Approved Score” all over their papers. In the end, the question “what is Fluxus?” was best answered by the experience of Fluxus.

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Fluxus Drawing Club

Go Where the Interesting Problems Are

Throughout my residency, my driving question changed from ‘what are participatory strategies for the public to engage with an art movement?’ to ‘what can ‘living the life of the idea’ look like as we create museum experiences?’ How can we answer questions together? Who is included in ‘together’? I hope that the museum field can make space to support posing and playing with these formative questions. Open Field was a powerful incubator. I want to expand on ways of thinking about interpretive experiences, creating new tools that are intelligent, nuanced and in synch with the artworks or movements, as well as the contemporary public.

Hannah Higgins, the daughter of founding Fluxus members Dick Higgins and Alison Knowles, described Fluxus as having an “elasticity of its social formation.” It is precisely that elasticity which made it possible for us to interpret, create, and disseminate along the way. It became a perfect umbrella, full of holes and sunshine.

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Benjamin Patterson, a key figure in the Fluxus network of artists, visits the Walker on October 9 as part of the exhibit Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. Art Expanded, 1958-1978, which explores the expanded arts of the 1960’s and 1970’s, is on view through March 2015, and includes the work of Alison Knowles and George Macunias, among other notable Fluxus figures.

The Inevitable Relationship Between Fluxus and Social Practice: Sarah Schultz Interviews Natilee Harren

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField. This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978 and Radical […]

What do Walker Open Field, the avant-garde art movement Fluxus and socially-engaged art practice have in common? That is what the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department explored through this summer’s program, FluxField. This project took advantage of the concurrent timing of Open Field and the opening of Walker exhibitions Art Expanded: 1958-1978 and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, both containing a strong Fluxus presence.

We invited a range of artists to create projects or events for Open Field inspired by or in some cases in reaction to the works, philosophy, and cosmology of Fluxus. FluxField artists included Beatrix JAR (Bianca Pettis and Jacob Aaron Roske), BodyCartography Project (Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad), Andy Ducett, Mike Haeg, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Chris Kallmyer, Maria Mortati, Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, and Jenni Undis. The indomitable Laurie Van Wieren also jumped into the flux fray with her Open Field piece, 4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside. Key Fluxus figures Alison Knowles and Benjamin Patterson were invited to perform their work during the summer and fall.

To set the stage for FluxField, we invited the Los Angeles–based art historian Natilee Harren to begin to draw connections between these practices with a talk in the Walker’s Star Tribune Foundation Art Lab. This interview between Harren and Sarah Schultz, the Walker’s former Curator of Public Practice, is drawn from an essay Harren is writing called Notes on the Inevitable Relationship Between Fluxus and Social Practice.

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Maria Mortati’s FluxField Interpretive Trail. Photo: Maria Mortati

Sarah Schultz: Natilee, what exactly is Fluxus? I find myself stumbling over this question and have never have seen or heard it described the same way twice!

Natilee Harren: The simplest and yet most difficult question to answer! Fluxus began as a neo-avant-garde artist collective founded in 1962 by George Maciunas and was active throughout the US, Europe, and Japan at least through the 1970s, although some would argue that Fluxus is still active today. It has acquired the reputation of being an unrepresentable or undefinable art movement, similar to how Dada and Surrealism were once perceived, but I think that’s simply because we haven’t yet arrived at a satisfying framework for understanding what Fluxus artists were up to. If we look at the main modes of Fluxus production—performances and multiples—it becomes clear that the common denominator of Fluxus practice was a reliance on scores and other forms of instruction. And that implies a production that was process-oriented, iterative, and often delegated. A Fluxus work almost always entails multiple realizations and therefore multiple authors, performers, and audiences. Fluxus artists’ utilization of scores was a crucial contribution to the post-modern expansion of artistic practices in the 1960s and a major thrust behind their efforts to look beyond the art world—to related fields like music, theater, literature, architecture and design—for models of art’s production and distribution.

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Mike Haeg’s Penny Event. Photo: Maria Mortati

Why is the score such an integral form and idea within Fluxus? What does the score enable?

It all goes back to the search for alternative models for art’s production and distribution. A score allows for risk, failure, and experimentation, especially in the wake of 1950s innovations in musical notation and the embrace of indeterminacy by New York School composers like Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and John Cage, with whom many Fluxus people studied. A score creates an opportunity for collective and collaborative production. A score allows the work to happen in different times and places with different performers and different audiences. And yet, despite all this risk, chance, and variability, a score allows the work to be continually understood as a particular work, and to maintain its identity in however loose a way despite the differences in its varied manifestations. A score can provide a very loose structure or form, but the form is still there. It persists.

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Rachel Jendrzejewski’s Walker Yam: 100 Scores for Open Field. Photo: Steve Cohen

The score feels like a connecting thread between Fluxus and Open Field. Why do they make good companions?

I think Fluxus and Open Field are natural complements because there is an integral relationship between the commons (the social-spatial model for Open Field) and scores. If you look at any theory of the commons, there is always the provision that commons require a set of agreed-upon and collectively upheld rules—just like Open Field’s own Field Etiquette. These rules could just as well be thought of as Open Field’s “score.” If commons rely on a score-like set of rules, then I think it’s equally fair, and rather interesting in fact, to imagine that a score in the expanded sense brought to us by Fluxus creates a commons, if only temporarily.

Some of the most explicit examples of Fluxus scores that can be thought to produce commons are those highly graphic in nature, like Benjamin Patterson’s Pond and Dick Higgins’s Graphis series. I am particularly interested in these because they remind us that Fluxus scores were not all text pieces but came out of an emergent culture of experimental notation that utilized not only text but really wild diagrams and drawings. Notation in the expanded field, you could say. The Patterson and Higgins scores involve grids and tangled webs of lines that are enlarged and transferred from the score to the floor of the performance space, providing a full-scale map to organize the bodies of performers and viewers.

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BodyCartography Project’s Feeling the City on Nicollet Mall. Photo: Sarah Schultz

But perhaps even more so than Fluxus artists, the architect Lawrence Halprin was one who understood the link between scores and commons, since he designed public space with choreography in mind. He was the partner of dancer Anna Halprin and author of The RSVP Cycles, an amazing book about the social uses of scores. And he was the designer behind the renovation of Nicollet Mall in 1966. The RSVP Cycles includes his own “motation” study, a score for how people might move through one block of the redesigned street. I loved that we performed Alison Knowles’s pieces there, mapping them onto Lawrence Halprin’s extant score for pedestrians in the form of his carefully designed cityscape.

This connection between scores and commons helps makes sense of why Fluxus artists would go from performing a touring concert program to establishing artists’ housing in Soho and, at least in the case of Maciunas, planning communes in Massachusetts, Japan, and the Caribbean. Or more simply why everyday, life-sustaining activities such as cooking would figure into their practice.

Speaking of Alison Knowles: one summer highlight was working with her at the Walker to perform several of her iconic Fluxus scores including Proposition #2: Make A Salad, Shoes of Your Choice and Piece for Any Number of Vocalists (Song of Your Choice). Can you talk about your experience of the salad, the shoes and the song?

of2014air_ak_salad Open Field; Artist-in-Residence; Education; Public Programs; Visual Arts; Exhibitions. Alison Knowles: Make a Salad, July 10, 2014, in The Grove. A leading member of the Fluxus artist group, Alison Knowles will be in-residence with her collaborator, Joshua Selman, to restage her iconic event score Make a Salad on Open Field. Event scores involve simple actions, ideas, and objects from everyday life recontexualized as performance. While each iteration of the piece is unique, the basic ingredients include Knowles preparing a massive salad by chopping the ingredients to live music, tossing it in the air, then serving it to the audience. Originally performed in London at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1962. Knowles?s work is included in the Walker?s new exhibition Art Expanded: 1958?1978, on view June 14, 2014 ? March 8, 2015 in Galleries 1, 2, 3, and the Perlman Gallery. Curated by Eric Crosby.

Alison Knowles’ Make a Salad. Photo: Gene Pittman

With those performances I was profoundly struck by Alison’s spirit of adventure, curiosity, and commitment to those pieces throughout all these years. Those works were written in 1962 and 1963! Her relationship to them is a perfect example of Fluxus performance culture. There is a commitment to the work, a comportment of earnestness and seriousness despite the work’s lightness and wit, and an attitude—an ethics, even—of generosity and denial of mastery and ego. The recent Walker events demonstrated that after all these years Fluxus scores still have something to give us, something to show us, due to their flexibility and durability and strength, cannily built in from the very start. They bring different things into relief in every environment and era in which they are performed.

ecp2014air-knowles-wkshp Education; Community Programs; Open Field; Artist-in-Residence; Visual Arts; Exhibitions. Alison Knowles Workshop July 11, 2014 Art Lab; Nicollet Mall; Hyatt Hotel in Downtown Minneapolis. Part of Alison Knowles Open Field residency, and by extension, the exhibition Art Expanded. Two of Knowles' scores were reinterpreted: #6 Shoes of Your Choice (orig. March 1963), and #7 Piece for Any Number of Vocalists (orig. December 1962).  The event/workshop was not advertised or open to the public. Sarah Schultz sent an invite to Staff and a small group was assembled. Collaborators include Laurie Van Wieren, Eric Crosby, Chris Kallmyer, Bianca & Jacob from Beatrix*JAR, Marcus, Rachel J., Laura, and Natilee.  Andy Underwood documented the scores on location; still photos by Lacey Criswell.

Alison Knowles’ Song of Your Choice. Photo: Lacey Criswell

And then there is always the danger involved in their performance, especially when we took them out into the streets of Minneapolis. With Shoes of Your Choice, which we performed on Nicollet Mall, there was the danger of enfolding passersby into the piece who had no idea what Fluxus is, and then with Piece for Any Number of Vocalists (Song of Your Choice), which we performed at the Hilton hotel’s indoor pool, there was the danger of having no audience at all except that one guy who was already swimming laps. But then several people, including some in ballroom dance costumes, came out onto their balconies to hear us and it was so lovely. The works are open to all possible outcomes. As George Brecht once said, “No catastrophes are possible.”

So finally, what kind of connections can we draw between Fluxus and contemporary, socially-engaged art practices? If it’s helpful, I am using the phrase socially-engaged art, a term I know can be frustratingly vague,  in the broadest sense, to encompass any number of art practices (activist, performative, community-based, pedagogical etc.) that are created by and grounded in social interactions and exchange between people.

of2014air_kallmyer-pcat_0717 Open Field Artist-in-Residency Chris Kallmyer, Play Catch, All Together, July 17, 2014, Open Field. Grab your baseball glove* and join Kallmyer and Twins organist Sue Nelson for a work focused on the sound of people playing catch alongside a baseball stadium organ. Participants are invited to oil their gloves, do some light stretching, and throw around a lemon as warm-up?an homage to Fluxus artist Ken Friedman. Afterwards, have freshly-squeezed lemonade, meet Nelson, and take home a copy of Kallmyer?s score for Play Catch, All Together.

Score for Chris Kallmyer’s Play Catch, All Together with Twins organist Sue Nelson. Photo: Gene Pittman

Speaking art historically, I think that artists working within the framework of social practice today owe much to the Fluxus milieu’s expanded understanding of a score, whether they are explicitly working with scores or not. To help make sense of these links I’ve begun to think of different types of social organization as scores that organize the movement of bodies through space—everything from music, recipes, and games to architecture, digital coding, ritual, and law. The best social practice work exposes how our lives are scored, orchestrated, or performatively designed for better or for worse, in both utopian and dystopian fashions.  At the Walker for example, you’ve invited artists like Lucky Dragons and Fritz Haeg to mount projects that capitalize on the innate community-building aspects of music and the preparation of food.  This summer Chris Kallmyer drew out some of the meditative, aesthetic aspects of the cultural ritual of baseball on Open Field with his work Play Catch, All Together.  In Los Angeles where I live, artists like Elana Mann and Juliana Snapper of the People’s Microphony Camerata explore the political and aesthetic potential of the People’s Mic, and Michael Parker carved a gigantic obelisk a parcel of land adjacent to the LA river, which became a platform for performances and critical discussions about art and the local ecology.

As artists move further and further away from the production of discrete, conventional art objects, I find the idea of the score—and all that it entails in terms of the work’s ontology, production, distribution, and reception—to be an increasingly helpful way of understanding what an artwork is now and how it moves through the world.


Benjamin Patterson, a key figure in the Fluxus network of artists, visits the Walker on October 9 as part of the exhibit Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. Art Expanded, 1958-1978, which explores the expanded arts of the 1960’s and 1970’s, is on view through March 2015, and includes the work of Alison Knowles and George Macunias, among other notable Fluxus figures.

Cat is Art Spelled Wrong: Making a Book About Cat Videos

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There are plenty of cat books out there in the world.

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Clockwise: Fashion Cats, Why Paint Cats, The Big New Yorker Book of Cats, Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book

But of all the cat books out there, there is no book quite like the book that Coffee House Press (with help from the Walker Art Center) aims to publish next fall. Using the Internet Cat Video Festival (#catvidfest) as inspiration,we’re currently working on a book that is all about cat videos: why we love them, why we hate them, and why we are powerless to resist them. There’s just something about cat videos.

Substantial research on our end helps confirm that statement:

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The Internet Cat Video Festival in (top-bottom) 2012, 2013, 2014

In order to fund this book, and the many moving parts that an effort of this size entails, Coffee House Press has launched Catstarter – a Kickstarter that’s cat-themed. For all intents and purposes, it acts as a way for you to pre-order your copy of the book, titled Cat is Art Spelled Wrong, get it shipped directly to you, and, oh yeah, get your name printed in it as a token of appreciation.

The book will take the form of a collection of essays – thoughtful, varied, and by a roster of some of our favorite writers and friends, including Matthea Harvey, Alexis Madrigal, Rhonda Lieberman, Elena Passarello, Stephen Burt, Jillian Steinhauer, Kevin Nguyen, Sasha Archibald, Will Braden, Joanne McNeil, and Carl Wilson. (Fun fact: Wilson’s book about Celine Dion for the 33 1/3 series, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Bad Taste, was a huge source of inspiration for the project for Coffee House Press’ Caroline Casey. Although it seems odd to mention Celine Dion and cat videos in the same sentence… is it really?)

Already the book has gotten some love from Cool HuntingThe Washington Post, and ARTINFO.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Take it from Henri, le Chat Noir:

Read more about the project and  support Catstarter today! 

As we’re sure you’re aware, with Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. The project must be funded in full by Saturday, September 13 or it will see exactly $0 of the pledged funds.

A First-Timer’s Take on Open Field (2014)

Born and raised in Minneapolis, it is rather unsettling to me that I had never experienced the magic of Open Field before this year. Lucky for me, the Field welcomed me – the intern – with open arms and heart and it didn’t take long for me to feel at home within all its chaos […]

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Born and raised in Minneapolis, it is rather unsettling to me that I had never experienced the magic of Open Field before this year. Lucky for me, the Field welcomed me – the intern – with open arms and heart and it didn’t take long for me to feel at home within all its chaos and beauty.

Open Field knows how to do it big. 

We set a Guinness world record, made a salad and shared it with 274 people, and hosted a Cat Video Festival that attracted over 9,000 kitty fanatics. But we also know that the more intimate is just as valuable. Open Field offers a place and a time that allows us to connect, create, and explore – together, of course.

This year, Fluxus-related activities took over the field.

Fluxus also serves as an appropriate metaphor for the field and its various happenings: seemingly random and disorderly, yet in specific ways orchestrated and controlled, with ample space for inspiration, improvisation, and spontaneity.

OF2014_100Scores_0731_03Look Sideways, Listen Close: 100 Scores for Open Field – Rachel Jendrzejewski

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Fluxus Running Club – Mike Haeg

OF2014_Baseball_07 (2) (1024x768)Play Catch, All Together – Chris Kallmyer

OF2014_Salad_0710_06 (2) (1024x768)Make A Salad – Alison Knowles

Open Field is a place where the line between being a casual spectator and an active participant is thinly drawn, and where one is always gracefully toeing both sides.

No matter where you stand at any given moment, there is always an opportunity to sit back and take it all in; but never as an outsider.

OF2014_Choreographers_0712_21 (2) (1024x768)4×4=100 Dancing Outside – Laurie Van Wieren

OF2014_ChopsInc_0703_06Anatomy of a Drum and Bugle Corps – Chops, Inc.

OF2014_StereoTrees_0719_04Stereo Trees – Areca Roe

OF2014_Compline_0720_4113Pesher Compline – Brian Dowdy

We cracked our knuckles before coercing and refining our creative skills.

OF2014_Cursive_02 (2) (768x1024)Cursive Writing for the Contemporary Artist – Alyssa Baguss and Jenni Undis

OF2014_AnimationCreation_0628_08Animation Creation Station – Peter Nelson and Michon Weeks

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Into the Blue: The World of Cyanotype – Nathan Lewis

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Drawing, Far Away So Close – Keith Braafladt and Margaret Pezalla

We stretched, expanded and exercised our minds and our bodies.

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Gorilla Yogis

OF2014_StarTrekYoga_0731_03Star Trek: A Narrated Yogic Adventure – Yoga Quest

Open Field was even edible.

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Get Soaked (With Local Muesli) – Karin Norby

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Take a Bite, Shape the State! – Presley Martin

In the midst of all of this, communities were formed and connections were discovered because Open Field offered a place to do some cool stuff and meet some cool people. I took part in Paige Tighe’s Walk With Me project, where I walked and talked with someone whom I may never have done so with otherwise. I also watched as strangers collectively played “Find Your Spot” with Scooper.

I got to spend this summer learning, growing, and making new friends, and watched as art and other such crazy experiments united interesting people. Open Field would in no way be possible alone or within a vacuum – it really is what we make together.

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Can I Have an Idea

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MobileCartFamilyphoto!

The new Mobile Cart is just right for summer in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. On weekends, the grounds are teeming with visitors from all over the world. We’ve seen wedding guests dressed to the nines, families picnicking in front of Spoonbridge and Cherry, and mini golfers waiting for tee-times. Like our visitors, the Mobile Cart has a purpose for being outside.

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Designed for pop-up outdoor activities, the handsome and nimble cart reflects the genius of Museum Exhibit Designer Maria Mortati. It has a casual feel, like a food cart. In fact, someone tried to order ice cream from us! Seriously, people have approached us with practical questions concerning weddings, mini-golf, and the location of Garden Café, which contrary to its name, is inside the Walker Art Center.

The Mobile Cart is a magnet for visitors desiring more interaction with art and ideas.

A stop at the Mobile Cart outfits visitors with supplies for Can I Have an Idea, a hands-on drawing experience. This activity is loosely related to the exhibition Art Expanded currently on view at the Walker Art Center. Can I Have an Idea plays with decision-making and offers a simple direction for action. It resembles a musical score that comes alive when someone actually performs it.

Can I Have an Idea looks like this. There are 2 bins with instructions for drawing typed out on small paper cards. The first bin is labeled “Take an Idea and Make a Drawing.” It contains single directions, such as, “draw the nearest sculpture” and “spin around and draw a spiral.” The second bin, “Take 2 Ideas and Make 2 Drawings,” is for participants who appreciate experimentation.

The girl pictured below was eager to try as many ideas as possible.

Her grandma turned to me and said, “She’s from an arty family living in Winnipeg, Canada.”

This activity also intrigued two visitors from the Museo d’Arte Modernae Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto in Italy. Full disclosure, these museum educators asked to replicate Can I Have an Idea in their museum, and I gave them what they needed.

Closer to home, we’ve engaged families from the Twin Cities who were visiting the Garden for the first time. The presence of the Mobile Cart generated conversation about Family Programs and encouraged a number of families to return to Walker’s Free First Saturday offered throughout the year.

This summer, Yaneth Quintero, a STEP-UP Intern, hosted the Mobile Cart with me. She wraps up her internship at the Walker this week so  it’s appropriate to record her impressions about the Mobile Cart. When asked, she quickly replied, “I realized how much I miss drawing. When I was a child, I drew all the time.”

Ilene: What did you notice about the crowd?

Yaneth: There were many curious on-lookers. Young and old people approached us and loved the cart. Some even asked me if they were too old to participate! But, as Ilene says, ‘There’s no age limit to creativity’. They were eager to try out the scores; just draw!

Ilene: What did they want to know?

Yaneth: I had a multitude of people ask me when we’d be out with the cart again. Others asked about the Walker and were curious about activities happening inside the building. We were a mini info hub. I also got questions about the master mind behind the Mobile Cart or directions to places.

Ilene: How did they interact with the drawing activity?

Yaneth: Some people came to try out one score while others got deeper into it. They made more personal drawings based on their interpretations of the scores. Some just kept coming back for more ideas.

Ilene: Thanks, Yaneth, for being so attentive, welcoming and creative. Keep drawing!

 

Attending An Internet Cat Video Festival: A How-To Guide

In just over 48 hours, the Walker Art Center’s backyard will become a haven for cat video lovers, cat lovers, amused bystanders, reluctant participants, and everything in between at the Internet Cat Video Festival. Mostly, it will become a place for all of us to come and watch 70 minutes of internet cat videos together. […]

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In just over 48 hours, the Walker Art Center’s backyard will become a haven for cat video lovers, cat lovers, amused bystanders, reluctant participants, and everything in between at the Internet Cat Video Festival. Mostly, it will become a place for all of us to come and watch 70 minutes of internet cat videos together.

To help communicate the full range of fun and delight we have planned for you, and, more importantly, to help you plan for the event, we have compiled this guide that will hopefully answer your questions and make your Thursday as enjoyable as possible.

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This event is free and open to everybody.
That’s right – this is an all ages, no tickets required, totally free event. Everybody can come, from your baby to your grandma.

Everybody… including my cat?
We strongly encourage you not to bring your cat. Maybe some cats have a lot of experience hanging out in a crowd of thousands of people, but we’re willing to bet that most of them don’t. So please, for the comfort of your cat, please leave him/her at home. If you do decide to bring Fluffy, be aware that the field has no shade, and we have no facilities (litter boxes, water bowls, cardboard boxes) for animals. (That means dogs, too. If you absolutely want to bring your pup, please be aware that if any cat fights break out, we’ll have to ask you to leave.)

What time do the videos start, though?
The actual cat videos will start at dusk (approximately 8:40 pm). Come early! Activities start at 6, and Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers, a cool band with an even cooler name, will play from 7-7:50 pm.

In addition, the event  will be ASL interpreted. We also have an area that will be roped off for ADA access.

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Getting Here
You may have heard that it was super packed in 2012, and yes, we had a full hillside. But the hill is big enough for everybody, and the act of watching cat videos together will make you feel that much closer to your neighbors, literally and emotionally.

However, we encourage you to plan ahead. Please bike, walk, or take public transit to Catvidfest. It’s easy!

1. Bike – We will have 35 bike racks set up on site. Half will be at the top of the hill on the south side of the Walker (Groveland Terrace) and half will be along Vineland Place (between the Walker and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden). Lovely volunteers will be at these locations to greet you and your bike and direct you to the racks. We also have a NiceRide station!

2. Bus – Metro Transit has offered free bus rides to anybody heading to Catvidfest! Simply fill out this brief survey and download your passes. Be sure to have them in hand when you get on the bus. You can reach the Walker on lines 4, 6, 12, and 25. Download your pass here. Map your route here.

3. Walk – It’s going to be a lovely evening. Stretch those legs!

4. Drive – If you’re from out the area, the Walker has an underground parking ramp available on site. We expect this to fill up early in the evening, so please plan accordingly. Event rate parking is $7, and CASH ONLY.

Event parking is also available at St. Mark’s Cathedral on Hennepin Ave. for a $10 flat fee. There are two parking lots available to attendees, either at the cathedral at 15th Ave and Oak Grove St or at 1730 Clifton Place. Information and maps can be found here.

Cat-iquette

  • No reserved seating is available; all space is first-come, first-served. Bring thick blankets to sit on, as much of the field is currently covered in wood chips.
  • Please don’t bring lawn chairs, as it makes sightlines difficult for your new friends behind you.
  • No shade is available on the field, so bring proper sun protection.
  • No outside alcoholic beverages.
  • Pack it in, pack it out: Please take any disposables you bring on site back home with you.

Screenings in the Walker Cinema

If you can’t make it this Thursday, not all hope is lost! We’re screening the new program of videos in the Walker Cinema on Thursday, September 4 at 7 pm (preceded by Cat Poetry) and Saturday, September 7 at 2 pm. Tickets go on sale on Friday, August 15.

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Now for the Fun Stuff

– Dress for the event! There is a lot of stylish cat gear out there in the world. You can also get catted up at the event by donning a brand new Catvidfest T-shirt for 2014. Then you can head over to the Walker’s booth and apply a special edition artist-designed cat tattoo to help you show your devotion (at least for a couple days). After that, if you feel like you’re still missing something, head over to Animalist’s booth to apply some whiskers with the help of a team of face painters. Then, to document your new look, you can head to Animal Planet’s animated GIF photo booth for a digital keepsake.

– Eat and drink at the event! There will be two cash bars on site. We’re working with St. Paul’s Flat Earth Brewing Company to provide their special cat-themed beers: Hep Cat and Tabby Cat (pictured above), both refreshing summer ales. Prefer something fruity? Try the Sourpuss Cocktail, a blend of  Prairie Organic vodka, sweet and sour, lemon juice and soda, garnished with a lemon wedge and a cherry. (Other non-alocoholic beverages will be available as well.)

For sustenance, grab a salad or sandwich from the Garden Café inside the Walker, or a treat from one of the three food trucks parked outside: AZ Canteen, A Cupcake Social, and Gastrotruck.

– Meet two real engineers! Paul and TJ from “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats” (and current People’s Choice Award nominees) will be here, and they’d love to meet you and talk about cats or engineering (but probably more so cats). You can catch them at the Feline Rescue booth from 6:30-7:30 pm.

– Grab a seat at Cat Drawing Club with local artists Todd Balthazor, Alyssa Nassner, and Shannon Joyce. Draw from several catty prompts, including “Live long and pawsper” [see: engineers], “Meow-na Lisa,” and “Cats with laser eyes,” among others.

 

bub

Oh, and BUB.
Lil BUB, “the most amazing cat on the planet,” will be making a special guest appearance on stage as a guest of Animal Planet. You can meet her at a ticketed event in Minneapolis on August 15.

 

That’s all for today. We can’t wait to see you, and most importantly, we can’t wait to watch cat videos with you.

On the day, share your photos and your fun using hashtag #catvidfest. Questions? Hit us up on Twitter (@catvidfest) or Facebook.

A final Pesher Compline Performance – August 3rd

For the past two Sunday evenings, Sky Pesher has been filled with the melodic harmonies of compline set against a sunset backdrop. If you are unfamiliar with compline performance, check out choral director and musician Brian Dawdy‘s description and discussion on why he chose to bring compline to Sky Pesher. There’s no mistaking that this is a unique […]

For the past two Sunday evenings, Sky Pesher has been filled with the melodic harmonies of compline set against a sunset backdrop. If you are unfamiliar with compline performance, check out choral director and musician Brian Dawdy‘s description and discussion on why he chose to bring compline to Sky Pesher.

There’s no mistaking that this is a unique space in which to perform compline; with the sunlight waning, the humming melodies and play between silence and subtle sound become increasingly distinct and tangible. Entering and exiting one by one, meditating on each movement and sound, the performers invite audience members to sit and relax in peaceful contemplation.

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When: Sunday, August 3rd

Where: Sky Pesher (at the top of the hill)

What: A compline performance sung by 4 choral performers

 

Look Sideways, Listen Close: come together at Open Field

This Thursday, playwright and interdisciplinary artist Rachel Jendrzejewski  shares one hundred newly published Fluxus event scores written just for Open Field. In a program titled Look Sideways, Listen Close: 100 scores for Open Field, she invites participants to perform these  “playful prompts designed to sharpen senses and stoke imaginations” using a microphone, and a variety of props. The […]

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This Thursday, playwright and interdisciplinary artist Rachel Jendrzejewski  shares one hundred newly published Fluxus event scores written just for Open Field. In a program titled Look Sideways, Listen Close: 100 scores for Open Fieldshe invites participants to perform these  “playful prompts designed to sharpen senses and stoke imaginations” using a microphone, and a variety of props. The scores ask us to notice details (“Be with the clouds”, instructs Listening Event 1), and  approach old problems in new ways (“Full time salaries for independent artists, cut all the strings with scissors” reads Allocation Piece).  This call to imagination and attention fits perfectly with the evening’s other Open Field programming, which invite us to participate in similar ways: look  sideways, listen close; let your senses be sharpened and your imagination stoked.

Look sideways

Scooper the Clown

Scooper the Clown

With their program Drawing, Far Away So Close, artists Keith Braafladt and Margaret Pezalla take a new approach to drawing. The two encourage participants to use a microscope to draw the extremely small, then use a telescope to draw a scene placed far in the distance. Braafladt and Pezalla are both “fascinated with drawing and looking for the nearly invisible.” In another Thursday night program, Scooper the Clown invites your to play “Find Your Spot”, Scooper (Shannon Forney) explores the way a clown and her game might help you engage with your community. “Find Your Spot” points to commonalities between strangers: “Find your spot if you live in zip code 55403! Find your spot if you took public transportation today!” You might leave the field with a greater appreciation for your neighbors.

Listen Close

The Ericksons

The Ericksons

Bring an ipod of your favorite songs and transcend your fear of dancing in public thanks to Don’t You Feel It Too?, a project that is “the practice of freeing your spirit through dancing your inner life in public places.” Together we’ll dance on the field, listening close through our own set of headphones. Mindfulness: Be Here NowTM, a series of fifteen-minute meditations in Sky Pesher, encourages participants to listen close in another way, tuning into breath and the present moment. Close out the evening by listening to Acoustic Campfire with Lydia Liza (Bomba de Luz) and Eric Mayson (Crunchy Kids), followed by local folk favorites The Ericksons.

Let your senses be sharpened and your imaginations stoked

Star Trek Yoga Quest

With Star Trek: a narrated yogic adventure, Yoga Quest aims “to explore the power of storytelling and engage minds and bodies in a yogic adventure; to find ways to make wellness appealing to folks who otherwise wouldn’t engage with it.” While some like to bring their imaginations to life via Star Trek-themed yoga, others prefer games. Grown-up Club returns with more Recess Games, if you haven’t had a good dose of Kick the Can and Capture the Flag this summer. If you prefer a less action-packed activity, join the Drawing Club team at the picnic tables.

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