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.
“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.
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.
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.
Joseph Holtzman at the Hammer
So weird. Tylenol-shaped room! Thin scrawly paint on marble! Overstuffed farm-motif sofas! So many shades of green!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.