In February 2003, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s Charcoal Dance Floor–a highly detailed floor drawing of young clubgoers that slowly disappeared as the shoes of gallery visitors scuffed it–was featured in the Walker exhibition How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age. Since then, they’ve visited twice more as artists-in-residence. Against the backdrop of evolving and controversial media ownership rules by the Federal Communications Commission and possibly the most media-dominated presidential campaign in United States history, they are working in collaboration with the Walker Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) to build a citywide network of independent radio transmitters broadcasting from homes, offices, cars, and even bikes.
Starting July 1st and running until the November 2nd election, the Walker and its community partners will hold workshops, screen films, and present speakers around the issues of radio access, independent media, free speech, and democracy. To get involved in this free radio project, see below under Related Events.
Response-Ability: An Interview with Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla
In a recent interview with Walker staff members, the artists discussed their practice.
For your residency, you will be collaborating closely with WACTAC. Several of your past projects have included similar elements. What do you find interesting about this mode of working?
There is something very exciting to us about the idea of creating open and dynamic structures that lead to unpredictable results. Because we are two people working together, our process is fundamentally an economy of exchange–of ideas, thoughts, observations, etc.–so it seems natural to us to extend and permeate the boundaries of our collaboration with new inputs from others. We like the idea that collaborating allows for different positions to come into contact and conflict with each other. This dimension has the potential to challenge the narcissism of our individual claims on truth and constitutes a fundamental aspect of critical communication.
In describing contemporary art, “provocative” is an overused adjective, yet it fits when discussing even your seemingly innocuous work. Are you comfortable with that word?
To provoke is to call forth a response from another, which implies one’s ability to respond–or response-ability. We do like this idea.
Humor is ever present in your art. It’s often disarming. What do you see as the role of mirth in art?
We like the potential of transformation that humor contains, that a work can affect you physiologically to such an extent that it can produce an internal explosion in your body in the form of laughter. This reaction at its best can be incredibly powerful in terms of mobilizing and sharing identifications, challenging norms, and offering hope for the possibility of imagining alternatives.