Blogs Walker Seen

Valentine’s Message: “I’m Your Man! Love, Sufjan”

Ryan Brink killed it on Valentine’s Day. The book specialist in the Walker Shop, he was picking out a Valentine’s card for his girlfriend Claire and figured he couldn’t go wrong with a handmade block-printed card by Ghost Academy. Then Sufjan Stevens walked into the Shop and helped up his game. Brink sheepishly approached Stevens, […]

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Ryan Brink killed it on Valentine’s Day. The book specialist in the Walker Shop, he was picking out a Valentine’s card for his girlfriend Claire and figured he couldn’t go wrong with a handmade block-printed card by Ghost Academy. Then Sufjan Stevens walked into the Shop and helped up his game.

Brink sheepishly approached Stevens, who would perform with his trio Sisyphus at the Walker later that night during the opening of Jim Hodges’ retrospective, and asked him to sign the card. Stevens laughed and grabbed the pen, writing a message that Brink assures went over well with Claire:

Claire
You’re making a huge mistake with this boy Ryan. I’m your man!

XXOO

Love,
Sufjan

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Valentine’s Day with Jim Hodges and Sisyphus

On February 14, lovers of all kinds — art lovers, music lovers, museum lovers, Sufjan lovers — came out to spend Valentine’s Day at the Walker. Assembled to preview our newest exhibition, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, guests dressed up for a photo booth, drank heart-inspired cocktails, danced to DJ sets from Olga […]

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Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Director Bill Arning, Jim Hodges, and Sisyphus (Sufjan Stevens, Serengeti, Son Lux) at the entrance to Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take. All photos by Courtney Perry.

On February 14, lovers of all kinds — art lovers, music lovers, museum lovers, Sufjan lovers — came out to spend Valentine’s Day at the Walker. Assembled to preview our newest exhibition, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, guests dressed up for a photo booth, drank heart-inspired cocktails, danced to DJ sets from Olga Bell and Angel Deradoorian, and let loose in Gallery 8 with Sisyphus, a supergroup/side project by Sufjan Stevens, Serengeti, and Son Lux. After opening remarks from Hodges and exhibition curators Olga Viso and Jeffrey Grove, the galleries were buzzing until past midnight.

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Exhibition co-curators Jeffrey Grove of the Dallas Museum of Art and Walker Exectuive Director Olga Viso with Jim Hodges

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“How do I look?”

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Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak with friends in the galleries

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Trying on giant glasses for the photo booth set up in the Garden Café

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Lining up to walk through and still this, 2005–2008, an intricate work of 23.5k and 24k gold

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Getting a closer look at the glass sculpting of ghost, 2008

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Viewing their distorted reflection in Untitled, 2011, a 12-foot diameter mirror

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Getting those Instagrams and selfies

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The view through You, 1997

Gazing at the 24-foot-long denim sky that is Untitled (one day it all comes true), 2013

Gazing at the 24-foot-long denim sky that is Untitled (one day it all comes true), 2013

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Inspecting the various light bulbs of Another Turn, 1999

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Olga Bell starting the dance party before the dance party

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Son Lux and Olga Bell getting the crowd ready for Sisyphus

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Glasses on, Stevens takes the stage

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All Smiles Serengeti

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Double-shades Son Lux

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Sing-Along Stevens

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The best way to kick of Sisyphus’ new album: a maximum-capacity gallery dance party

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Things quiet down on the special-edition Valentine’s Day After Hours

Artists Installing: Jim Hodges

American sculptor Jim Hodges spent the past week in the galleries installing his delicate, poetic, and often colorful artworks for his mid-career retrospective, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take. With materials ranging from glass, mirrors, denim, silk, chains, and restaurant napkins, the exhibition—which opens Saturday—engages viewers’ every sense. Visitors get a first chance to preview […]

Jim Hodges installing in gallery 1. All photos by Gene Pittman.

Jim Hodges installing in Gallery 1. All photos by Gene Pittman

American sculptor Jim Hodges spent the past week in the galleries installing his delicate, poetic, and often colorful artworks for his mid-career retrospective, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take. With materials ranging from glass, mirrors, denim, silk, chains, and restaurant napkins, the exhibition—which opens Saturday—engages viewers’ every sense. Visitors get a first chance to preview the exhibition during the special Valentine’s Day After Hours.

Hodges inspecting one of the blown glass bells that make up Untitled (bells), 2002.

Hodges inspecting one of the blown glass bells that make up Untitled (bells), 2002.

It takes many hands—and two ladders—to install this mirror mosaic piece, Untitled, 2011.

It takes many hands—and two ladders—to install this mirror mosaic piece, Untitled, 2011.

Hodges and Olga Viso, cocurator and Walker Executive Director, watching as Here's Where where we will stay, 1995 is lifted into place.

Hodges and Olga Viso, exhibition co-curator and Walker executive director, watch as Here’s where where we will stay, 1995 is lifted into place.

 

Moving Mouse

The exhibition Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties closed a few weeks ago, but Geometric Mouse — Scale A (1969/1971) didn’t leave the building until this morning. Bundled in hats, scarves, and gloves, a small team removed the glass doors on Hennepin Avenue to make a large enough space for the work to be carefully escorted out. To […]

mouse6The exhibition Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties closed a few weeks ago, but Geometric Mouse — Scale A (1969/1971) didn’t leave the building until this morning. Bundled in hats, scarves, and gloves, a small team removed the glass doors on Hennepin Avenue to make a large enough space for the work to be carefully escorted out. To assist the complex move the piece was disassembled and placed on two wooden carts. Then, a team of four rolled the Mouse from the Hennepin Lobby to the curb to be attached and lifted into the air by a crane. This Mouse scene was quite unusual for the people driving by the Walker this morning.

The yellow Geometric Mouse will be stored off-site until it is placed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in March. DSCF5715

Walker Contemporaries: Gone British!

On one of the coldest nights of the year, a large gathering of the Contemporaries came to enjoy phenomenal fish and chips, specialty British drinks, and a private screening of the best television advertisements of the year from across the pond. Or as the Brits say it, ad-ver-tis-ments. In the US, we wait in anticipation […]

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On one of the coldest nights of the year, a large gathering of the Contemporaries came to enjoy phenomenal fish and chips, specialty British drinks, and a private screening of the best television advertisements of the year from across the pond. Or as the Brits say it, ad-ver-tis-ments.

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In the US, we wait in anticipation for the Super Bowl commercials, but the Brits aim for a spot in this beloved lineup of bronze, silver, and gold annual awards. So while there are many funny ads, it does not cater to a specific audience, and those with serious messages to sell are also competitors. The length of these commercials can be extended in comparison to the typical 30-second or minute ad one watches at home in the States. This again allows a complex or intense message to be fully addressed, not shortchanged for airtime. It also allows amusing stories to develop into absolutely hilarious ones.

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Contemporaries members Jon Engel and Brian Ness

Right off the bat everyone was laughing from a commercial by Orange (a phone service) which combined the practice of over-the-top airport-like security with a movie theater setting. It was ridiculous, with dogs running in the theaters, popcorn everywhere, and the movies being disrupted — which was the point — but it allowed us as Americans to have a good laugh about the serious matter of security. Kevin Bacon soon made several appearances — and by several I mean literally multiple Bacons in one room! One of them was even cooking bacon… of course, it was Ren McCormack. The little details in these ads are what make them award winners, like when Bacon the astronaut from Apollo 13 attempts to drink coffee with his helmet on, but it’s quickly passed by to return to Ren dancing to his walkman.

 

Some of the ads, however, are less than subtle. Fosters made an appearance, like always, full of Aussies and beer. Then there were the adorable ones like Wheetabix and IKEA that told charming stories of parents and children functioning on a great breakfast or with the right furniture to play on. The nice fuzzy feelings were also present in several John Lewis advertisements, featuring a time-distant romance that tugged on the heart-strings while highlighting the quality of the brand over a century.

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At times I was not quite sure what angle a company was going for, but perhaps I’m just the wrong audience for Axe advertisements. Maybe epic stories of boyfriends surviving “harrowing” social situations while a deep voice narrates the scene makes you want to run off and buy a body wash called “Cool Metal” or “Rise,” but I’m good without. On the opposite end, however, Guinness’ ad kept us confused while we watched a group of young men being carefully herded by a border collie, until the very end where we had a collective “aha!” moment and a good chuckle. Acer Incorporated’s take on Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer from 24 was also quite good, translating his passion on the clock to creating the best pastry possible.

Yet the stars of the evening were the PSAs, a serious and rather graphic addition to the lineup. Some became squeamish watching footage of shark cruelty and mutilation for shark fin soup, but everyone stopped breathing during Samusocial International’s interactive online ad for women’s shelters and website awomansnightmare.com. In this advocacy ad for homeless relief and safety, a woman asks for a cigarette on the street but ends up running for her life. If the viewer shares the video, it ends well, if not… Reality again is not spared in a PSA for first aid knowledge, comparing deaths by cancer to those of choking in a cinematic story of life and death. The ad of the year is empowering as it is difficult, showcasing British paralympic athletes as superhumans who have overcome life-altering accidents and abnormalities to redefine strength and what it is to be human.

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Walker Contemporaries Noah Keesecker and Jessica Shaykett

As Americans we often tire of a constant barrage of commercials and advertisements around every corner, but this hour of film is less about selling something and more about quality stories — and is not to be missed.

Cheers!

Art School: Design

“Ultimately, in order to communicate a design must first be noticed. It should stand out and be unique, compelling, interesting, funny, strange… anything except boring, predictable, and just like everything else.”  —CSA Design 2011 On December 8, the Walker’s Art School welcomed one of the most critically acclaimed graphic designers in the nation, Charles Anderson. […]

“Ultimately, in order to communicate a design must first be noticed. It should stand out and be unique, compelling, interesting, funny, strange… anything except boring, predictable, and just like everything else.”  —CSA Design 2011

Image: CSA Images Product Page

On December 8, the Walker’s Art School welcomed one of the most critically acclaimed graphic designers in the nation, Charles Anderson. The Walker is known for its passion for pursuing all art forms, especially the graphic arts. Our own graphic design studio  has been the recipient of a multitude of awards, including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Corporate Achievement, in recognition for their innovative programming such as their annual Insights Design Lecture Series. Lead by Design Director Emmet Byrne, the Walker’s design department has continued to give spark and imagination to the entire art center.

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Emmet Byrne and Charles S. Anderson

 Many of our art school attendees had been previously introduced to the work of Charles S. Anderson Design Co., whether through publications like the New York Times or large-scale museum exhibitions such as the Walker’s touring show Graphic Design: Now in Production, created in conjunction with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Graphic Design: Now in Production was the Walker’s largest graphic design exhibition since Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History in 1989 (the same year CSA Design was established).

Installation view of Graphic Design: Now in Production, 2011. Photo: Gene Pittman

But the connection between CSA Design and the Walker doesn’t end here. As a young student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Anderson found a mentor in his instructor, Peter Seitz. Seitz lead an outstanding career, working with graphic arts greats all over the world – and eventually he was recruited to Minneapolis to be the Director of Design at the Walker. Anderson gained his first few years of experience working with Seitz at his design firm. He later moved on to the Duffy Design Group. But in 1998 Anderson formed CSA Design with the French Paper Company, narrowing his focus to “identity development, packaging, and product design.”

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Bryne with Jerry French and Anderson

Our eager students received a glimpse into the design-paper duo team of Anderson/French with the handy printed booklet produced by CSA Design for French Paper. The afternoon’s lecture then began with Emmet Byrne introducing Charles Anderson and his steadfast business partner, Jerry French, of French Paper. Through Byrne’s opening, the audience gained an understanding of CSA Design’s contributions to the world of art. Not only did CSA Design in partnership with French Paper Company create their own line of products in the Pop Ink Brand, but they’ve also exhibited in a multitude of museums, galleries, and have been reviewed in high-profile arts publications.

Pop Ink and CSA Images, 72 Button Set. Photo courtesy Charles S. Anderson Design

CSA Design’s fine art connections stem from a background in pop culture, instilled in Anderson at a young age. Growing up in a small town in Iowa, Anderson was fortunate to forge a friendship with graphic artist Clyde Lewis. Lewis’ work in advertising combined with his passion for 1960s and ’70s comic books and monster magazines led Anderson to seek an education in graphic arts, bringing him to Minneapolis and MCAD. Minneapolis is now considered to have the second most vibrant design community in the nation, second only to New York.

The business partnership between CSA Design and the French Paper Company — which is over 140 years old — reiterates CSA Design’s focus on commercial art and in a way, commodification. Just the idea of a paper company brings to mind rolling machinery producing endless rolls of paper. However it was within this cross of pop culture, mass-production, and commercialization that CSA Design discovered the Pop Art phenomenon, the philosophy most famously explored by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg. Parallels can easily be drawn between these revolutionary artists and CSA Design’s own mission. The Walker’s current exhibition Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties (closes January 12, 2014) focuses on his developmental years as an artist. In the exhibition, one can see his intense interest in the small details around him, the everyday objects which are generally overlooked in the realm of art. Oldenburg is known for his “soft sculptures” in which he took those everyday objects, those commodities, and recreated them in unusual materials.

Claes Oldenburg, Shoestring Potatoes Spilling from a Bag, 1966 Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Gift of the T. B. Walker Foundation, 1966

Similarly, CSA Design takes images many of us have become familiar with through commercialization and gives them a creative twist. Over the years, Anderson has taken on a momentous project in which he with his team created “one of the most extensive and well-respected archives of licensable artwork in existence” which can all be viewed on the online CSA Images Database.

Theater HORA in Minneapolis

Ten actors from Zürich-based Theater HORA came to Minneapolis in November to perform Jérôme Bel’s Disabled Theater at the Walker. They were excited to visit the Twin Cities after performing a seven-show run of Disabled Theater in New York City. When not rehearsing and performing at the Walker, they went shopping and bowling and had the chance […]

Ten actors from Zürich-based Theater HORA came to Minneapolis in November to perform Jérôme Bel’s Disabled Theater at the Walker. They were excited to visit the Twin Cities after performing a seven-show run of Disabled Theater in New York City. When not rehearsing and performing at the Walker, they went shopping and bowling and had the chance to meet some of the artists at Interact Center, a visual and performing arts organization for people with disabilities in the Twin Cities. The photos below are also on the Theater HORA blog, where they shared some of their observations and reflections (in Swiss German!) from their time in America.

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The Theater HORA company with Jérôme Bel in the Walker green room after a performance. All photos by Cornelia Marinucci.

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Sara, Miranda, and Tiziana from Theater HORA at the Interact Center art studios.

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Theater HORA actors with members of the Interact theater company.

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Theater HORA at the visual arts studios at Interact.

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In their free time, the Theater HORA company went bowling at Elsie’s.

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Theater HORA’s autographs on the signature wall, backstage at the Walker.

 

Walker Contemporaries: Visiting the Polsky Collection

It’s in the hallway, the spare room, the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room and more — there is no room in Alan Polsky’s condo without art. In addition to the beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis, every wall in the space boasts a unique and carefully selected image. Polsky, member of the Patron’s Circle […]

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It’s in the hallway, the spare room, the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room and more — there is no room in Alan Polsky’s condo without art. In addition to the beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis, every wall in the space boasts a unique and carefully selected image. Polsky, member of the Patron’s Circle and Collectors’ Council at the Walker and board chair of Midway Contemporary Art, recently welcomed the Contemporaries to his home to view this great collection and discuss how it came to be.

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Martin Michalowski and Molly Garvey look at one of Polsky’s paintings.

It all began with a missed opportunity — a gorgeous Louise Bourgeois painting at a modest price — that Polsky still seems to somewhat regret. In art collecting however, there will always be the one that got away. Yet Polsky explained that the learning curve in this endeavor is entirely personal: you learn what works for you as you view and collect the art. Each choice informs the next, each purchase helping you understand the previous. The decisions he has been least satisfied with are those which were focused on money. While he buys and resells some art, Polsky finds he is most satisfied with the art he buys when the focus is not on the cost or promise of future profit. The value of an artwork on the market can greatly increase in a short period of time, but how a person feels about it usually does not. This model of intuition over investment has proved successful for Polsky and he is pleased with his current collection.

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A Jay Heikes work purchased at the Midway Auction

Polsky’s collection is also one that is tailored to his location, with many local artists represented in his home. A Jay Heikes work over the fireplace should be familiar to many in Minneapolis: his work was featured in the recent Walker exhibition Painter Painter. Combined with the names of Ed Ruscha and Carl Andre, every work in the space is world-class. German artists are a theme, and paintings are most common, for reasons both aesthetic and practical. There is a reason sculpture is most often displayed in museums and parks, the literal size of it is quite a hindrance. Polsky expressed that he honestly wouldn’t know what to do with a sculpture if he acquired one.

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The perfect nook for an Aaron Spangler sculpture

The works hanging in Polsky’s condo are only a portion of his collection. With limited space, he chooses and places artwork in almost every corner but without doing any of them injustice. A condo is a place of domesticity and living compared with the more impersonal environment of a museum and over time, what hangs on the wall can be overlooked. So this year he had the works rearranged throughout the apartment with the help of John Rasmussen, Executive Director of Midway Contemporary Art. Other complications must be considered in hanging a personal collection, such as the color of the walls, fireplaces, and the steam created in a bathroom. Polsky’s walls are all white, although that isn’t a requirement. He does not use his fireplace, as the Heikes above it would surely become more contorted than the artist intended. These unusual considerations in a living space, however, are a reminder that art can and should exist in more intimate spaces than museums. Spaces like the Walker allow for the public to share in the fantastic history and present of modern and contemporary art, yet few people interact with an Ed Ruscha with such intimacy. Living with art in the home may currently be a luxury for most, but perhaps should be a necessity.

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Contemporaries gather around at Polsky’s

At the end of the evening, Polsky showed us the first work he ever bought: a simple and elegant set of three images, framed together in birch. Compared with some of the large and well-known paintings on his walls now, it seems a humble beginning — and a reminder that every collector starts somewhere.

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Alan Polsky

 

 

 

 

Opening Night Party: Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada

On Thursday night, the multimedia exhibition Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada opened in ­the Burnet gallery. Greeted with a large map of Tangier and hand-painted film posters, guests of all ages and backgrounds were invited to explore the work of Yto Barrada. DJ/rupture aka Jace Clayton enhanced the atmosphere with unique musical selections […]

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DJ / rupture spinning Maghrebi music in Cargill Lounge.

On Thursday night, the multimedia exhibition Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada opened in ­the Burnet gallery. Greeted with a large map of Tangier and hand-painted film posters, guests of all ages and backgrounds were invited to explore the work of Yto Barrada. DJ/rupture aka Jace Clayton enhanced the atmosphere with unique musical selections and hip-hop–infused Moroccan music, accompanying attendees as they viewed the gallery.

Curator Clara Kim, aritst Yto Barrada, and film curator Sheryl Mousley

Curator Clara Kim, artist Yto Barrada, and Walker senior curator of film / video curator Sheryl Mousley

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Sign painters Forrest Wozniak and Dan Madsen in front of the map of Tangier

Jérôme Bel Roundtable Lunch

Today over the lunch hour, Walker staff from all departments, along with artist-in-residence Fritz Haeg, Lucky Dragons, and J. Morgan Puett (who performed at the Walker last night) had a conversation with Jérôme Bel. Bel is in town for Disabled Theater, a collaboration with Theater HORA. This wide-ranging conversation, full of humor, stories, and “mistakes were made” confessions from Bel, […]

Today over the lunch hour, Walker staff from all departments, along with artist-in-residence Fritz HaegLucky Dragons, and J. Morgan Puett (who performed at the Walker last night) had a conversation with Jérôme Bel. Bel is in town for Disabled Theater, a collaboration with Theater HORA.

Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither, Jérôme Bel, Director of Education and Curator of Public Practice Sarah Schultz, and Executive Director Olga Viso

Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither, Jérôme Bel, Director of Education and Curator of Public Practice Sarah Schultz, and Executive Director Olga Viso

This wide-ranging conversation, full of humor, stories, and “mistakes were made” confessions from Bel, explored some of these questions—questions that are often top-of-mind at an interdisciplinary institution like the Walker:

  • Why use theater as a platform, when there are so many other forms of expression? What is so attractive about the “black box,” the lights going down, and people taking their seats?
  • How do visual arts folks experience theater differently than those grounded in the world of performance?
  • How can you collect dance, when it is so closely connected to the body of the dancer? And what happens when collectors want to own it, and monetize it?
  • Is bringing the performing arts into the museum gallery context just a trend?

Towards the end of the conversation, Viso remarked that, instead of trying to translate his existing work into the “white cube” of the museum,  perhaps the real question is “What can Bel produce within the context of the white cube?” After seeing his works in the theater and spending time him this afternoon, I’m fascinated to know how he might answer that question.

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