Blogs The Green Room Paul Schmelzer

Paul Schmelzer is the editor of walkerart.org and the Walker blogs. He was lead organizer of the Walker's 2015 conference Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age. As a freelance writer, he's focused on art, media, and activism for publications including Adbusters, Artforum.com, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, Raw Vision, re:form, Utne Reader, and at his personal blog, Eyeteeth. Award-winning former editor of the Minnesota Independent, his interviews with architect Cameron Sinclair, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and activist Winona La Duke appear in the book Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook (Royal Society of Arts). Twitter: @iteeth

Rock the Garden Moves to Boom Island in 2016

Rock the Garden—which has featured unforgettable performances by dozens of bands over the years, from Wilco and Sonic Youth to Bon Iver, Dessa, and De La Soul—returns Saturday, June 18, 2016, but not to its usual location: we’ll be moving the concert to Boom Island Park in near Northeast Minneapolis. For the first time, the […]

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Rock the Garden—which has featured unforgettable performances by dozens of bands over the years, from Wilco and Sonic Youth to Bon Iver, Dessa, and De La Soul—returns Saturday, June 18, 2016, but not to its usual location: we’ll be moving the concert to Boom Island Park in near Northeast Minneapolis. For the first time, the festival will feature not one but two alternating stages for eight bands in a larger park-like setting along the Mississippi River. Backdropped by the downtown skyline, the event will also feature the best of Twin Cities food trucks and local beer.

The 2016 Rock the Garden lineup will be announced April 5. Copresented by the Walker and 89.3 The Current, Rock the Garden tickets will go on sale to members of the Walker Art Center and MPR on April 5, with remaining tickets going on sale to the general public on April 6. Rock the Garden returns to the renovated Walker campus in 2017.

2015: The Year According to C. Spencer Yeh

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from abstract painter Jack Whitten to Black Futures (Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham), theater director Daniel Fish to designer Na Kim—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from abstract painter Jack Whitten to Black Futures (Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham), theater director Daniel Fish to designer Na Kim—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                 .

“2015, what a year, right? Cops, climate, drugs, Trump, refugees, terror abroad, terror at home, guns, guns, more guns,” writes artist and composer C. Spencer Yeh. “It’s hard not to wonder if this is all building towards something, or if it’s just business as usual—life as we know it (or at least read it on the screen). The phantom of the ‘other’ has been growing and growing, a device used to evoke not only fear and danger, but also security. How much longer can we comfortably put-off and pretend that it won’t be us next?”

Yeh—who performs in the Walker galleries April 28 as part of the Sound Horizons series—is recognized for his interdisciplinary activities and collaborations as an artist, improviser, and composer, as well his music project Burning Star Core. Recent presentations of work include “Modern Mondays” at MoMA NYC, “The Companion” at the Liverpool Biennial, “99 Objects” at the Whitney Museum, “Great Tricks From Your Future” at D-CAF in Cairo Egypt, and many others. Yeh also collaborated with Triple Canopy for its contribution to the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He was a 2015 Artist-in-Residence at ISSUE Project Room NYC, and is included in the performance program for Greater New York at MoMA/PS1. Recent recordings include Solo Voice I-X (Primary Information); Wake Up Awesome, with Okkyung Lee and Lasse Marhaug (Software Recording Company); and Long Pig by New Monuments, his trio with Ben Hall and Don Dietrich (Bocian).

Introducing his top 11 picks for 2015, he writes, “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do what I did, and to experience what I could, and of course for the people I was with.”

2015-11

 

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Incapacitants, All Ears Festival, Oslo

They still got it!

2015-10

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Moriah Evans, Social Dance 1–8: index, ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn

I feel like any conversation around disciplines such as movement and choreography is preceded by the ol’ “I’m not an expert but…” So—I’m not an expert but, I really really enjoyed this.

2015-09

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Yuji Agematsu, Real Fine Arts / Whitney Museum of American Art

The more pristine the frame, the grosser and more real the hand gets. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

2015-08

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Royal Trux, Berserktown II, Santa Ana 

What do you expect from a long-desired reunion? Felt like a Trux show that could’ve happened back around Y2K.

2015-07

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High Zero 2015, Baltimore

I returned after ten years to participate again in this weekend-long improvised music festival (and social experiment/summer camp/artist intensive), and I have to say, it was even more fantastic than before.

2015-06

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Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival, Lausanne

What other festival has Peter Tscherkassky introducing his a program of works, and then Sissy Spacek on for the party after?

2015-05

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ALLGOLD: Stephen Decker, Inva Çota, Kevin Beasley, Golnaz Esmaili

ALLGOLD, MoMA PS1 Print Shop, Queens

In case you missed it, these four artists/designers/multieverythings just wrapped up a residency at PS1’s new raw space, staging an intense and voracious yearlong program with a dizzying array of fellow heads.

2015-04

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Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Museum, Joshua Tree 

Checked this wonder out, and then the Purifoy Junk Dada show at LACMA days later. Always love a desert, though it was breaking 100 degrees outside.

 

2015-03

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Pyramids and the Great Sphinx, Giza, Egypt

Absolutely intense and dizzying, for many reasons beyond the landscape. A complex and complicated human spectacle. Spent some time in Cairo as well, including working in 100Copies studio where Islam Chipsy and EEK recorded their latest record (check that out).

2015-02

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Spectacle Theater, Brooklyn

Though I am a part of this all-volunteer no-profit microcinema, this mention is also a reminder of the many other people and ideas that flow through that I am as much a spectator and supporter of. Wobbling towards the edge of a true five years of existence has been a thoroughly harrowing, difficult, and rewarding experience.

2015-01

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Got laid off, got hitched, took the cat up into the mountains

2015: The Year According to Trajal Harrell

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, theater director Daniel Fish to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2014: The Year […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, theater director Daniel Fish to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Dubbed “spellbinding” and “the next Martha Graham,” dancemaker  Trajal Harrell has performed all around the globe, including at the Walker for Out There in 2013. In anticipation of the March 2016 US premiere of his Walker-commissioned new work The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai, we invited him to contribute his perspective on the past year—which he generously did while waiting for a flight out of Delhi.

In addition to the Walker, Harrell’s work has been presented by the Kitchen, New York Live Arts, the TBA Festival, the American Realness Festival, ICA Boston, Danspace Project, the Crossing the Line Festival, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, LA’s RedCat Theater, Festival d’Automne (Paris), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Festival d’Avignon, Impulstanz (Vienna), TanzimAugust (Berlin), and Panorama Festival (Rio de Janeiro), among others. He has also shown performance work in visual art contexts at MoMA, the Perfoma Biennial, MoMA PS1, Fondation Cartier (Paris), the New Museum,the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Serralves Museum (Porto), Centre Pompidou-Paris and Metz, ICA Boston, and Art Basel-Miami Beach. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Doris Duke Impact Artist fellowship, among others, he’s currently part working with the Museum of Modern Art on a two-year Annenberg Residency.

2015-0117928722479_f794a5f92a_bWangechi Mutu, She’s got the whole world in her with Forbidden Fruit Picker (both 2015) at the Venice Biennale. Photo: La Biennale di Venezia, Flickr

The 2015 Venice Biennale

Standout works by Sarah Sze, Kerry James Marshall, Sarah Lucas, and Wangechi Mutu, among others.

2015-02

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Sigmar Polke, Untitled 2006, 2006 © The Estate of Sigmar Polke, Cologne / Adagp, Paris. Photo: Grand Palais

I’m late to the Sigmar Polke party, but the MoMA show and a pic in the Picasso.mania show in Paris made me so happy—and frigging better late than frigging never (honk honk!!)

 

2015-03

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The Serena Slam

When asked was she going after the grand slam in 2016 after not making the final grade in 2015, Williams answered in the affirmative, saying it was a goal she had never reached. Now, that’s a champion! You might beat her on that rare occasion, but she’s always setting the pace. (And a major shout out to Venus, who’s back to winning.)

 

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Tangerine

One of my favorite movies of the year, it was made on an iPhone 5s by director Sean S. Baker.

 

2015-05

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Cookie Lyon

Taraji P. Henson is killing us and killing it on Empire. Keep your front row seat because Cookie’s Cookout is still on the way…

 

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Hello? Hello!

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Greek Parliament as seen through a protester’s EU flag. Photo: © Nikos Pilos for the Open Society Foundations

The Greek Crisis

Speaking of front row seats, for about two weeks the imminent fate of Greece was compounded with high interest by political havoc, euro neckwringing, and capital controls on Greek banks that still exist until when? (pause) We don’t know.

 

2015-08

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Agnes Martin, Untitled #1 (1980), in the Walker’s collection

Agnes Martin
Ran into one of her paintings by mistake. She takes no prisoners. I fell so willingly between the lines.

 

2015-09

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Babette Mangolte, Trisha Brown “Roof Piece”, 1973, 53 Wooster Street to 381 Lafayette Street, New York City Photo ©1973 and 2003 Babette Mangolte

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Trisha Brown’s Roof Piece at the re-opening of Le Centre National de la Danse in Paris—a monument if ever there was one.

 

2015-10

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Trajal Harrel with choreographer Jennifer Lacey at the Mona Bismark American Center, October 19, 2015. Photo: © Meredith Mullins

The new team at the Mona Bismarck American Center in Paris

Looks like things with edge and aesthetic seriousness are breaking into that bespoke townhouse overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Go Mona! Go Mona! Go Mona!

2015: The Year According to Daniel Fish

Daniel Fish. Photo: Tei Blow To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire […]

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Daniel Fish. Photo: Tei Blow

Daniel Fish. Photo: Tei Blow

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Na Kim to filmmaker Tala Hadid, artist Adam Pendleton to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                 ..

Daniel Fish is a New York–based director who makes work across the boundaries of theater, video, and opera. Drawing on a broad range of forms and subject matter including plays, film scripts, contemporary fiction, essays, and found audio, he’s been called “an auteur force in the American theater.” Fish’s work has been performed at theaters and festivals throughout the US and Europe including: VooruitFestival TransAmériquesBAM Next Wave Festival, Noorderzon Festival, the Juilliard School, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has taught at  Juilliard, the Yale School of Drama, Bard College, and Princeton University. In January, he’ll present A (radically condensed and expanded) Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again After David Foster Wallace and screen Eternal as part of the Walker’s Out There series.

Here, he reflects on the loss (of great artists) and discovery (of new images and ideas) that the past 365 days have held.

2015-01

photo: http://www.contemporaryartdaily.com/

Best use of party streamers and mannequins

Called Schauspieler (German for “actor”), Isa Genzken’s show at David Zwirner Gallery kept taking me by surprise, especially when it reversed the viewing experience and was suddenly, quietly looking at me.

 

2015-02

photo: Kenneth Saunders via http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/oct/08/chantal-akerman

Greatest loss of a filmmaker

Chantal Akerman’s final film, which premiered in New York City the day after her death, is a slow, challenging, and deeply human work about her mother. Her work is fearless, and she kept searching.

 

2015-03

photo: http://www.davidzwirner.com/exhibition/gordon-matta-clark-2/

Best use of arrows

Gordon Matta-Clark’s drawings: I could look at these all day long.

2015-04

photo: imago / DRAMA-Berlin.de

Photo courtesy DRAMA-Berlin.de

Greatest loss of a theater artist

Bert Neumann, the great stage and costume designer, graphic artist, and wild mind of Berlin’s Volksbühne. A  huge influence and inspiration to so many people working in theater, many of whom are unaware he’s influenced them. A hero is gone, and an era ends.

 

2015-05

Photo: Paula Court

Photo: Paula Court

Most haunted performance

The Vine of the Dead, Jim Findlay’s gorgeous, long work about ghosts and his family, splayed out across the boiler room dungeon of New York’s Westbeth apartment building.

 

2015-06

photo: http://www.iaap.org/news-2/obituaries-2/1270-lee-roloff.html

Photo: IAAP

Greatest loss of a gifted teacher

Age 88, professor emeritus of Performance Studies at Northwestern University and Jungian analyst, Dr. Leland Roloff taught me that “language is psychic breath.”

 

2015-07

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Best book I somehow missed reading until this year

James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. Read it if you have not.

 

2015-08

Most challenging film

Nearly 13 hrs of seductive, wearying, funny 1970’s  French guerrilla filmmaking, the re-release of Jaques Rivette’s OUT no. 1 manages to call up associations of both Molière and the October Paris attacks.

 

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Most effective object of the year

The gun.

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Most ineffective object of the year

The gun.

2015: The Year According to Sibyl Kempson

Sibyl Kempson. Photo: Matt Murphy To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from abstract painter Jack Whitten to choreographer Trajal Harrell, filmmaker Tala Hadid to artist-musician C. Spencer Yeh—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series […]

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Sibyl Kempson. Photo: Matt Murphy

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from abstract painter Jack Whitten to choreographer Trajal Harrell, filmmaker Tala Hadid to artist-musician C. Spencer Yeh—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                 .

“I really have barely been able to lift my head up from my own work table the entire year,” says playwright Sibyl Kempson, explaining why her year-end list is “so self-absorbed.” “I had no spare attention to give to current events, which are mostly evil—except for same-sex marriage. YAY!” Just a few of the things that consumed so much of her time this year: launching a theater company, publishing a book, premiering two plays and a dance theater work, visiting the ranch from TV’s Dallas, Bigfoot tracking in the wilderness…

A playwright based in New York City and the Pocono Mountains, Kempson’s plays have been presented all over the world, from New York to Omaha, Bonn, Germany to Skien, Norway—including Minneapolis: at the Walker with Elevator Repair Service (in the 2013 Walker-commissioned work Fondly, Collette Richland), at Red Eye Theater Company (Ich, Kürbisgeist and Potatoes of August), and in reading form at the Playwrights Center (The Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S.). Below, her enthusiastic, month-by-month (almost) take on the past year.

2015-01

Half Straddle,

Half Straddle, Ancient Lives

January

APAP! The year started off with the many festivals, visitors to the Big Apple, and performance works to last us townies throughout the year. This year I took in the genius of Half Straddle (Ancient Lives), Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble (The Art of Luv), David Neumann and the Advanced Beginner Group (I Understand Everything Better—and I helped write the text!), Amanda Villalobos (Lightkeepers), and Erin Markey (A Ride on the Irish Cream). Then I joined a gym!

2015-02

Rehearsal for LUNPSS at Abrons Arts Center

Rehearsal for Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag at Abrons Arts Center

February

Creative Capital application! Workshop at Sarah Lawrence of my new play, Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag. Directed by David Neumann!

 

2015-03

The Care Ladies of David Neumann's I Understand Everything Better: Karen Kandel, Yours Truly, and Jennifer Nikki Kidwell. I forgot to say: Two Bessies for Best Production and Sound Design in Oct!

The Care Ladies of David Neumann’s I Understand Everything Better: Karen Kandel, yours truly, and Jennifer Nikki Kidwell. I forgot to say: Two Bessies for Best Production and Sound Design in October!

March

Rehearsals for Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag—and I Understand Everything Better premiers at the American Dance Institute in Rockville, Maryland. And guess who stands in for in-demand theater and dance world star Jennifer Nikki Kidwell? YOURS, TRULY!!!

 

2015-04

LUNPSS published by 53rd State Press. Great hot-tub reading.

Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag published in April by 53rd State Press. Great hot-tub reading.

April

I launch my very own theater company: 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. at the Martin E. Segal Center at CUNY Grad Center! A momentous moment—like a wedding. Also: I launch my first Indiegogo campaign, for our first production: Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag, which opens on the 28th at Abrons Arts Center!

2015-05

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June

I attend my first expedition with the Bigfoot Field Research Organization—amazing!—and a wilderness survival course at the Tom Brown, Jr’s Tracker School in New Jersey! Difficult and liberating.

 

2015-06

The doors to the DANCENOISE Wawa Hut at the Whitney!

The doors to the DANCENOISE Wawa Hut at the Whitney!

July

DANCENOISE exhibition and performances at the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District! I am blown away by my artistic elders, recognizing an influence under which I’ve been operating all along without ever encountering it directly. Another momentous moment.

 

2015-07

Writer/performer Oceana James and my dog, Rey, at the 7 Daughters Academic Re-Education Event at Dixon Place

Writer/performer Oceana James and my dog, Rey, at the 7 Daughters Academic Re-Education Event at Dixon Place

August

7 Daughters’ second action—an “Academic Re-Education Event” at Dixon Place, entitled Make No Mistake: These Youth Are Here To Restructure Your Mindfeaturing the work of emerging women’s voices in experimental performance writing and welcoming them to the community.

 

2015-08

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SUPER BLOOD MOON TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE! Photo: Homer Horowitz

September

After four years of work, Fondly, Collette Richland, my collaboration with Elevator Repair Service, opens at New York Theatre Workshop! It divides the NYTW audience! Half hate it, half love it, except during the SUPER BLOOD MOON TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, when all hail broke loose, and no one could resist: subscribers headbanging in the aisles and clapping along to the “Krampus Devil Dance,” people converting to pagan feminism by the hordes, etc. Meanwhile, I continue to cherish many fond memories of our early previews at the Walker Art Center.

 

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The little door in the attic of the home where Henrik Ibsen grew up!

October

After 20+ years of dreaming about it, I finally flee to Norway! Robert M. Johanson (my former compadre from Nature Theater of OK) and I make a crazy translation/adaptation of the 4th act of An Enemy of the People entitled Public People’s Enemy for the Ibsen Awards and Conference in Ibsen’s hometown of Skien, Norway. I also visit the Rhineland’s Mittelrhein region for research.

2015-10

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Pilgrimage to Southfork

And beyond

Since then I’ve traveled to Dallas where I visited Southfork Ranch (of Dallas fame) and worked on a new cycle of rituals for the Whitney Museum starting in March 2016, worked on a new piece for 7 Daughters called The Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S. at New Dramatists (which was also developed in the Twin Cities at the Playwrights Center!), and have continuted writing lots of grant applications.

2015: The Year According to Kristin Van Loon

Kristin Van Loon. Photo: Sean Smuda To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist-musician C. Spencer Yeh to filmmaker Tala Hadid, playwright Sibyl Kempson to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: […]

2015-header
Kristin Van Loon. Photo: Sean Smuda

Kristin Van Loon. Photo: Sean Smuda

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist-musician C. Spencer Yeh to filmmaker Tala Hadid, playwright Sibyl Kempson to the Black Futures project—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2015. See the entire series 2015: The Year According to                                 .

“To compile this list, I did the quickest scan of my memory banks and went with my gut,” writes Kristin Van Loon. “As a curator, and for choreographic research, frankly, I take in more culture than is pleasurable. It’s fun to hold pleasure as a standard here. Owning up to this list reveals that pleasure for KVL in 2015 is both extravagant and sinister and, per usual, gravitates towards the craptastic. I am also enjoying a particular flavor of boring.”

A dance artist based in Minneapolis, Van Loon is a choreographer who collaborates with Arwen Wilder as HIJACK. To mark HIJACK’s 20th anniversary, the Walker commissioned redundant, ready, reading, radish, Red Eye in 2013, and Contact Quarterly published Passing for Dance — A HIJACK READER. As a dancer, this season she performs in works by Morgan Thorson and Laurie Van Wieren and was most recently on the Walker stage in Steve Paxton’s Smiling. Van Loon is artistic director of Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, co-hosts Future Interstates, and co-instigates Minneapolis Tuning Club and fARt FesT video nights.

2015-01

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Photo: Jael O’Hare

Bruce Sprungsteen/Brattny Spurrs (a.k.a. Stephanie Stoumbelis)

A frequent contributor to Dykes Do Drag at Bryant Lake Bowl, everything this performer does is exquisite. In one show this fall, Stoumbelis was Queen Selena Gomez in the first act, an uncanny King Bieber in the second act, and then decimated Billy Joel with sloppyass hilarity. My favorites are the quieter pieces: unclassifiable, minimalist gems like a perfectly lined, beglittered lip.

 

2015-02

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Designed by James Hadley, manufactured by the Royal Worchester Porcelain Company, exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo: Kristin Van Loon

Teapot made in 1882

When at the Art Institute of Chicago, I usually jog through the decorative arts to get to the  contemporary galleries, but this teapot made in 1882 stopped me in my tracks and stole my heart. I have secretly inserted a reference to it—attempting to embody its fabulousness—in every dance performance I’ve done this year.

2015-03

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Installation view of Hammer Projects: Joseph Holtzman. Photo: Brian Forrest

Joseph Holtzman at the Hammer

So weird. Tylenol-shaped room! Thin scrawly paint on marble! Overstuffed farm-motif sofas! So many shades of green!

 

2015-04

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Mike Kelley with Roth New York Bar @ Hauser & Wirth

I feared it redundant to go see more Mike Kelley after having recently seen the devastating, mammoth PS1 show in Queens a few years back. But his “Kandor” works at Hauser & Wirth: ooh-la-la, the deliciousness of the Jolly Rancher–hued glowers and the cheap jewel geode-esque cave. And then to sip free espresso prepared by this cute French guy in a bar with Dieter Roth’s gross rotting chocolate busts looking down on me. I looked down on the city turned upside down by the Pope’s visit. A little weepy from the beauty and cheap thrills.

2015-05

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Miranda July’s The First Bad Man

I am not a fan of fiction, especially novels, but life went on hold for two days of nightmarish non-stop reading. A virtuosic snuggling of lived and fantasy threads.

 

2015-06

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Michael Harding’s “The Paints, Past and Present: Details and Descriptions of Colours”

My morning mediation is to hand-write a color a day. I don’t paint. I hope to gain a more juicy and unapologistically technical vocabulary by the end of his section on “Earths and Antinomies.”

 

2015-07

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Paul McCarthy’s Black and White Tapes

I have long been obsessed with the little screening room at Walker. I have many objections to the new touchscreen open-access design of the Mediatheque but can’t complain about the badassery I have found on the playlist. I went back to watch McCarthy again yesterday to make sure I could get behind this one. Absolutely.

2015-08

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Jaime Carrera’s neither at Public Functionary

Such a complex feeling: giddiness from excruciating boredom. Oh!, to survive the dampening of all the little blue towels and then have another stack of little blue towels show up. It’s no secret I’m a Carrera fan, and I also feel lucky to have seen his Anti Hero at the Made Here pop-up gallery and Eucharistia (with Michael Cimino) at Bryant Lake Bowl this year.

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Detail of Jack Whitten’s Black Monolith II: Homage to Ralph Ellison The Invisible Man, 1994. Photo: Kristin Van Loon

Jack Whitten: Five Decades of Painting

To see it all at once after never seeing any of it before was an intense pleasure attack. Each new room made me gasp anew. So delicious both up close and squinty from afar.

2015-10
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The films of Trevor Adams

I had only enjoyed Adams’ short scratch films here and there over the years. But 2015 delivered two full-evenings of his absolute gorgeousness: “Trevor Island” at The Island last January and “Trevor Adams: Made from Scratch“as part of Cellular Cinema at Bryant Lake Bowl in October. These films are my favorite party drug.

Greg Tate: AACM’s Greatest Hits

For newcomers, the voluminous discography of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) can seem daunting, if not overwhelming. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this influential improvisational musicians’ group—founded in Chicago by pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams, pianist Jodie Christian, drummer Steve McCall, and composer Phil Cohran—we invited writer and Burnt Sugar […]

Greg Tate

For newcomers, the voluminous discography of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) can seem daunting, if not overwhelming. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this influential improvisational musicians’ group—founded in Chicago by pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams, pianist Jodie Christian, drummer Steve McCall, and composer Phil Cohran—we invited writer and Burnt Sugar bandleader Greg Tate to share a brief history of AACM for the Walker website. In doing so he gave us a bonus: his “idiosyncratic selection of the AACM’s Greatest/Sui Generis Hits.”

Muhal Richard Abrams

Young At Heart/Wise In Time (1969)
Things To Come From Those Now Gone (1975)
Sightsong (1976), with Malachi Favors
Duet (1981), with Amina Claudine Myers
Blu Blu Blu (1991)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago

People In Sorrow (1969)
Les Stances A Sophie (1970)
Certain Blacks (1970)
Bap-Tizum (1972)
Fanfare For The Warriors (1973)
Urban Bushmen (1980)

Roscoe Mitchell

Sound (1966)
Nonaah (1977)
Snurdy McGurdy and Her Dancin’ Shoes (1981)

Lester Bowie

Rope-A-Dope (1976)
Fast Last (1974)
The Great Pretender (1981)
I Only Have Eyes For You (1985)
Blasé (1969), with Archie Shepp
No Agreement (1977), with Fela Kuti 
Black Tie White Noise (1993), with David Bowie

Joseph Jarman

Song For (1966)
Egwu-Anwu (1977)
Black Paladins (1979)

Henry Threadgill

Air Song (1975), with Air
Air Lore (1979), with Air
80° Below ‘82 (1982), with Cassandra Wilson
Air Show No 1 (1986), with Air
Just The Facts And Pass The Bucket (1983)
Song Out of My Trees (1993)
Makin’ A Move (1995)
Up Popped The Two Lips (2001)

George Lewis

Solo Trombone Record (1976)
Shadowgraph (1977)
Sequel (for Lester Bowie) (2006)
Voyager (1993)
News For Lulu (1988), with John Zorn and Bill Frisell
Streaming (2006), with Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell
Les Exercices Spirituels (2011)

Leo Wadada Smith

Reflectativity (1975)
Dark Lady of the Sonnets (2011)
Ten Freedom Summers (2012)

Fred Anderson

Live At The Velvet Lounge, Volumes I+II (1998)

Douglas Ewart

Angles of Entrance (1998), with Inventions Clarinet Choir
Velvet Fire (2009)
Homage To Charlie Parker (1979), with George Lewis
Velvet Drum Meditations
 (2011)

Nicole Mitchell

Xenogenesis Suite (2008)
Aquarius
 (2013)

Matana Roberts

COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres (2011)
COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (2013)
COIN COIN Chapter Three: River Run Thee (2015)
Dear Science (2008), with TV on The Radio
Live from Minagle Falls, with Burnt Sugar
Yanqui U.X.O. (2001), with Godspeed You! Black Emperor

2014: The Year According to Grant Hart

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Tiffany Malakooti and artist Alejandro Cesarco to animator Miwa Matreyek and futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to       […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from graphic designer Tiffany Malakooti and artist Alejandro Cesarco to animator Miwa Matreyek and futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

Best known as a founding member of the fabled punk band Hüsker Dü (with Bob Mould and Greg Norton), Grant Hart is a drummer, songwriter, vocalist, and founder of the band Nova Mob (1989–1994). In 2013 he released his fourth solo album, The Argument, a 20-song double album inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost and “Lost Paradise,” a short story reinterpreting Milton’s classic, by his friend, William S. Burroughs. Next June, Hart will be featured in WISE BLOOD, an immersive second-line opera and exhibition based upon the southern gothic novel by Flannery O’Connor. The work, co-commissioned by the Walker Art Center and The Soap Factory (where it will be presented), features music by Anthony Gatto, a visual installation by Chris Larson, a cast of singers, brass bands, percussion lines, string players, and singers. Hart will play the role of blind street preacher Asa Hawks.


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William S. Burroughs, 1977. Photo: Wikipedia

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As time goes by, more young people are surprised by the fact that William S. Burroughs actually wrote books and wasn’t just a freaky old man who influenced Kurt Cobain. True, the happiest looking photos of Kurt show him at William’s home looking out from Bill’s home made orgone accumulator. William loved interaction with intelligent creative people, and to this day any gathering at a Burroughs event continues this tradition.

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Jeff Petrich

Jeff Petrich’s “Smoke and Croak”

Minneapolis’s West Bank has seen a lot over the years, but its Golden Age was long ago. During its heyday it was Mecca for jazz and folk artists who frequented the bars and cafes. A local fellow did his art there, producing an illustrated calendar for the Triangle Bar which featured photos of locals as well as notables from the outside world.

Jeff Petrich died this year. His death capped off a great year in which he showed his artwork in Finland as well as participating in a group show at the Belmore in Minneapolis.

When he suspected something was wrong, Jeff walked to Hennepin County Medical Center and was eventually told that he had cancer in more places than you can count with both hands. Treatment was as debilitating as the disease. Heroically, Jeff embarked on a project with his son William and William’s mother, Marie.  Entitled “Smoke and Croak,” this mission involved creating as much art as they could, smoking as much cannabis as he wished, and spending all of his time with the people who loved him the most. He stared death in the face, and I would not doubt if he saw death blink. There will be an exhibition of his work in 2015.

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Avjar. Photo: Ivana Sokolović, Flickr, used under Creative Commons license

Ajvar

September is the beginning of Ajvar (pronounced eye-var) season in Croatia. Sometimes ajvar is called “Yugoslavian caviar.” I think the reason for this is because people love to eat it rather than due to any snob appeal it might have. It is a simple paste made from roasted peppers, eggplant, and olive oil. Simple to make but recipes for making it will stray from that simplicity and suggest adding things that don’t belong in ajvar. It is not meant to be hot, but it’s warm and savory, rich and satisfying.

Nearly every Balkan country claim it as theirs. I have had it from northern Croatia to Bulgaria and it varies little from place to place.

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Stargaze

This is a group with roughly 20 members who rotate depending on the size required and the instruments involved. Stargaze teams up with songwriters to perform their music with an orchestra who shares this dream. I had the pleasure of spending a week with these fine players rehearsing and performing two concerts and watching them working with others.

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Haldern Pop

Situated near Cologne, Germany, the town of Haldern rolls up its sleeves every August and puts on what is arguably the most pleasant music festival in the world. Three days of music every year since 1984, Haldern Pop is devoid of billboard-sized corporate logos and all of the nonsense that distracts from a good musical experience. Set in a huge equestrian park, there is a very large stage and a “spiegel tent,” an antique portable venue that collapses to fit on a semi trailer. Off site in the town center are a bar and a 12th-century church that feature music indoors. Most of the tickets for next year have already been purchased.

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The “Joan Anderson letter,” written from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac. Photo: TIME

The Joan Anderson Letter

The very recent re-discovery of this legendary letter by Neil Cassady to a girlfriend, Joan Anderson has the world of literature flipping. Cassady was the inspiration for the Sal Paradise character in Jack Kerouak’s much overrated On the Road. For the rest of Kerouak’s life, people assumed that he was Paradise and Cassady went on and eventually was the bus driver for Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. Justice will be served by the attention this discovery brings to Cassady as the master of hip argot.

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RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic

Titanic Controversy

With each passing year, more people are coming around to the theory that the White Star liner Olympic was switched for the Titanic and sunk in her place by swindling board members of a huge multinational cabal. Much like 9/11 and JFK, the sinking that shocked the world has captivated folks who won’t believe that anything or anyone so great could be brought down by simple means or by simple men. Such is the nature of men and myth.

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Still from Heavy Rotation (2011), featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Whitney Biennial

This year I had the honor of attending this Super Bowl of American art with one of the featured artists, Chris Larson of St. Paul. Work by Charline von Heyl stole my heart like little else, but I was there for the shrimp.

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Union Depot, St. Paul

It was the largest building I ever saw when my family saw my brother off on his trip to Seattle in 1967 from this landmark. Back then, the gleaming brass of the William Crooks Locomotive was on display to excite the fantasy of a six year old and the ceilings looked as high as the sky. The first train in Minnesota, the Crooks is now at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth and the station in St. Paul has assumed its place as the gateway to the city once again.

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The new Vikings stadium under construction. Photo: Lars Hammar, Flickr, used under Creative Commons License

Stadium construction

Whoever thought that blackmail could be so pretty! As a lifelong believer that professional sports should house themselves and not be parasites sucking resources from the city, I was surprised to see how visually stimulating the tower cranes and skeleton of the new downtown stadium are. Stadiums are much more attractive than low income housing or new schools with good teachers. The salaries paid to pro athletes are sometimes greater than the cost of building a school, but who needs schools when you can be Champions!

2014: The Year According to Eyvind Kang

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from filmmaker Sam Green and musician Grant Hart to artist Shahryar Nashat and animator Miwa Matreyek—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                        […]

Eyvind Kang

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from filmmaker Sam Green and musician Grant Hart to artist Shahryar Nashat and animator Miwa Matreyek—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                        .

Eyvind Kang is a composer and violist who has released a dozen albums of original music, including “The Narrow Garden” (Ipecac) and “Visible Breath” (Ideologic Organ). He often performs vocalist/composer Jessika Kenney, in many contexts including their works of austere beauty “Aestuarium” and “the Face of the Earth” (Ideologic 2011/12). As a violist he has worked extensively with Laurie Anderson and Bill Frisell, as well as presented solo works by Christian Wolff, Satyajit Ray and Hanne Darboven. He has also been a guest musician and arranger on hundreds of albums, including those by Sunn O))), Blonde Redhead, and Glass Candy.

 


 

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Qiu Miaojin, Last Words From Montmartre

The communication in these writings is so personal, you begin to feel greatly attached, and since this very feeling is described with precision in the text, the whole experience of reading seems to fold in on itself like a black hole. At a certain point I thought, “I don’t need any other book.” The author advises that the chapters can be read in any order. At first I bibliomanced my own order, but at the moment I prefer her order. Also, there are many serious insights, both spiritual and scientific, that wouldn’t necessarily arise outside the context of high emotion.

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Ostad Mohammad Reza Lotfi

This giant of Persian classical music departed on May 2. The Abu Ata concert, a duo with M.R. Shajarian, is one of the classic documents of this music. Towards the end, he seemed to take a spiritual turn; his compositions became concentrated on the state of trance.

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Alexander Grothendieck

Departed on November 14. At this point, due to the kind permission of his family, we may all begin to learn a little more of his work during his final period of seclusion. For more information: Grothendieck circle.

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Sepideh Meshki

There are so many amazing setar players, but she stood out in this performance with the aforementioned Ostad Lotfi. From the first moments on her solo album on the incredible new Iranian label, Kherad Art House, one falls into a kind of dream. But she balances the paradoxes in the sound of the setar with perfect precision while maintaining a kind of intense communicative empathy with the listener. Although the discursive quality of the phrasing could easily lead to a cascade, she manages to keep the clarity of the musical idea up front. Also a deft combination of original/traditional.

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Taku Unami at Issue Project Room, New York

What can I say about this gig? Nothing, because nothing really happened. Most of the people weren’t aware there was a performance going on. I was about to leave because I was so bored, and ran into a friend on the steps, who informed me of the presence of a rare bee in the back of the room. Curious, I returned inside. I had previously become aware of a kind of strange aura, but by now it was really unmistakable. Like a funny party, in which very little happened, but whose aura increased as time went by.

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Alain Badiou, Mathematics of the Transcendental

An invaluable resource for those of us trying to study category theory independently. Especially huge for musicians, since it helps open the door to studying Guerino Mazzola’s epic textbook, The Topos of Music.

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Martial Canterel, Gyors, Lassú

A new album from him is always a cause for celebration, but I appreciate the change to a more up tempo sound on this one.

Exclusive Video: Dessa’s “Fighting Fish” as Remixed by The Hood Internet

For a woman bringing a distinctive voice to the male-dominated world of hip hop, Dessa says it was both “brain-scrambling” and grafifying to hear herself as a man—or, more accurately, to witness her voice slowed down so much that it sounded like that of a male rapper. That’s what Chicago’s The Hood Internet did with […]

Dessa. Photo: Hannah Hofmann

Dessa. Photo: Hannah Hofmann

For a woman bringing a distinctive voice to the male-dominated world of hip hop, Dessa says it was both “brain-scrambling” and grafifying to hear herself as a man—or, more accurately, to witness her voice slowed down so much that it sounded like that of a male rapper. That’s what Chicago’s The Hood Internet did with her single “Fighting Fish”: for an album released this June, the Minneapolis poet, writer, and Doomtree emcee shared the vocal tracks from her 2013 release Parts of Speech with other musicians and producers for reimagining. Offering The Green Room‘s readers an exclusive first look at the new video for the “Fighting Fish” remix—alongside the original—Dessa shares her thoughts, both on the remix project and on that first time listening to her voice slowed to man-like levels:

The beat for the original “Fighting Fish” was produced by my labelmate, Lazerbeak. It’s got a driving, aggressive sound; the lyrics I wrote for it are about going for the big win, even against long odds (music career, anyone?). In the Midwest, bold ambitions are often perceived as presumptuous: Who are you to think you can do or be something special? This song swims against that current.

We released “Fighting Fish” on my album Parts of Speech last year. This summer Doomtree released a remix project: we sent a cappella versions of the songs to producers around the country and asked them to build new production around the vocals. My favorite remix came from the The Hood Internet, based in Chicago. The remixed version of “Fighting Fish” is chopped and screwed, the vocals slowed down enough to sound as if they were recorded by a male artist. When I first received the file, I listened to it on repeat in my one-bedroom apartment, stunned. The new version seemed to change the emotional center of the song completely–more melancholic, an added gravitas. To hear my lyrics delivered in a man’s voice was brain-scrambling. The male voice is the featured instrument in most rap music; it’s the instrument to which I’m most accustomed as a listener and a fan. The transposition was at once gratifying (I sound like the artists I like!) and sobering as potential evidence of my own ingrained sexism (Do I grant male voices an authority that I don’t grant female voices–including my own?) After all the sociopolitical considerations subsided, however, I continue to love this remix because it kicks ass musically and it’s a big, bold departure from the original.

We recorded a music video for each version of the song. Both were directed by the team Isaac Gale and David Jensen. A big thanks to those two and to all the artists that contributed on this project. Hope you dig it, too.

Dessa, “Fighting Fish (The Hood Internet Remix)”

Dessa, “Fighting Fish” (Original)

For more from Dessa at the Walker, watch her perform “Bangarang” with Doomtree at Rock the Garden 2012; view the Rock the Garden 2014 time-lapse; see video of the October 2013 reading/book-launch party for her poetry chapbook, A Pound of Steam; or read “2013: The Year According to Dessa.” To see Dessa live, check her out on tour, starting later this week, or at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, where she’ll make her choral debut in October.

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