New projects built on site by past Walker Art Center artists-in-residence Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ralph Lemon, and Spencer Nakasako form the core of OPEN-ENDED (the art of engagement), a free-form multidisciplinary exhibition on view March 25–June 18. Collection works by Catherine Opie, Sam Durant, and Julie Mehretu will also be featured. This constantly evolving exhibition, which invites the public to go beyond mere viewing to playing an active role in the art, will include events and performances by local “resident artists,” regularly scheduled video screenings, and programmed and spontaneous salons where visitors can gather for discussion. Designed to question the distinction between art and life and to build a community inside the gallery, OPEN-ENDED aims to be a social space for all—a laboratory-like studio that functions simultaneously as a stage, a media station, an info lounge, a salon, and a cinematheque. A collaboration of the Walker’s visual arts, performing arts, film/video, and education and community programs departments, OPEN-ENDED is the final presentation of the Walker’s initiative More than a Museum: Audience Engagement in the 21st Century, funded by a generous multi-year grant from the Bush Foundation.
Minneapolis-born, New York-based choreographer/director Ralph Lemon’s installation Walter (2004–2006) is a landscape of memory and history re-created from his stage set for Come home Charley Patton (2004), the third part of his Geography Trilogy, co-commissioned and presented by the Walker. The original dance-theater piece began with Lemon’s examination of his own family history of relocation from the South to Minneapolis in the 1960s, along with the history of the Civil Rights movement and lynchings (both in the South as well as in the North), Mississippi Delta Blues, and ideas drawn from artists such as Bruce Nauman and writer James Baldwin. For OPEN-ENDED—the first artistic installation by this prolific creative mind—Lemon has produced additional contents from his ongoing research and relationships with the historical figure of Baldwin and with Walter Carter, a 99-year-old African American man who has lived his whole life in the South. The installation will create a particularly American landscape of history, memory, and myth, in which meanings are not fixed and determined but ambiguous and open, inviting viewers to become a physical part of its space and engaging them in potential constructions of a narrative. The project also exemplifies a way in which an artist, who is identified with one particular medium, can develop his work across disciplinary lines. Lemon’s relationship with the Walker has been long and rich. Lemon developed his epic Geography Trilogy while in residence at the Walker in 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2005. Lemon was honored with a 1999 CalArts Alpert Award in Arts and was named the recipient of the 2004 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) prize.
Filmmaker Spencer Nakasako, an artist-in-residence in 2001, 2002, and 2003, is well known for his philosophical mantra, “Everyone has a story.” He has developed a unique style of filmmaking that is inextricably intermeshed with social consciousness and community engagement. In San Francisco—his home base for many years and a city with a long history of Asian immigration and diverse Asian ethnic groups—he has been teaching documentary-making and video production to largely Southeast Asian, at-risk teenagers in the disenfranchised neighborhood of the Tenderloin district. Nakasako’s best-known works—Emmy-winning a.k.a. Don Bonus (1995) and the acclaimed Refugee (2002)—have highlighted the lives of some of these youths. In 2001, in conjunction with his residency, Nakasako presented a self-activated video booth inside a Walker gallery, where anyone could tell his or her story. Advancing this concept for OPEN-ENDED, he will create a digital media station where visitors can respond to the question What is freedom? The recorded images will be played along with videos produced by Nakasako, his teen collaborators in San Francisco, and colleagues around the country. Nakasako’s project is a proposal for communication that extends beyond the gallery into the outside world and also connects between gallery visitors and a larger community.
Rirkrit Tiravanija’s relationship with the Walker goes back to the 1995 exhibition Economies: Hans Accola and Rirkrit Tiravanija and his subsequent artist residency. Since then, he has realized many projects around the world and become one of the most influential thinker-practitioners in contemporary art. Fittingly embodying his peripatetic, gregarious existence, Tiravanija’s open, generous art often turns rarified galleries into spaces for social gathering and interaction. In them, visitors are invited to be more than mere viewers, compelled also to reconsider the institution of art and the act of art-making itself. His own words capture the spirit of his practice: “It is not what you see that is important but what takes place between people.” Tiravanija’s contribution to OPEN-ENDED is a structure inspired by untitled 2005 (demo station no. 5) (2005–2006), a round, two-story, temporary experimental theater stage built by Viennese architect Friedrich Kiesler in 1924. This project is part of the artist’s continuing series of dialogues with important monuments and milestones in modernist architecture and design. While its imposing physical presence and idiosyncratic architecture may at first glance seem out of place in the Walker’s gallery, the construction sets the stage for the exhibition and is meant to be used. Tiravanija was honored in 2004 by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, with its prestigious biennial Hugo Boss Prize.
Complementing the OPEN-ENDED projects by Lemon, Nakasako, and Tiravanija are works by three other artists included in the Walker’s collection. Los Angeles-based photographer Catherine Opie is represented by a photographic suite of Twin Cities ice houses created during her residency in 2001-2002; a sound recording and publication of selected writings on ice houses by Minnesotans will also be presented in the gallery. A bronze sculpture of an uprooted tree stump by Sam Durant (in residency 2002-2003), which was installed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and animated by a soundscape of statements, conversations, raps, and poetry that the artist created with local Native American youths, will be reinstalled in the gallery. New York-based painter Julie Mehretu’s 2002 residency project, “Minneapolis and St. Paul Are East African Cities,” gave a group of local East African immigrant teens an opportunity to document and narrate their lives and stories through photographs and writings. A selection of their works will be on view in the exhibition’s library area. The Walker’s 2003 presentation Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting was the artist’s first solo museum exhibition.
Seven local artists have been invited to present their own performances, events, and lectures in the gallery and beyond, including Mankwe Ndosi, a performer/poet and the artistic and managing director of the Center of Independent Artists in South Minneapolis; Gulgun Kayim, founder and co-artistic/managing director of Skewed Visions; Andrew Knighton, a guest lecturer in cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota; and Abinadi Meza, a sound artist and recipient of the 2004/2005 MCAD/Jerome fellowship. In addition, the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) will present a series of public events inside the gallery, including a fashion show, an open-mic session, and a karaoke battle.
Meet the Artists
Saturday, March 25, 1–4 pm Free with gallery admission
Meet artists-in-residence Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ralph Lemon, and Spencer Nakasako, who will be present in the gallery to greet visitors. Don’t miss this special opportunity to be part of a unique opening-day experience.
Target Free Thursday Nights
Contemporary Art in Conversation: Rirkrit Tiravanija and Bruce Sterling
Thursday, March 23, 8 pm
Free, but ticket required; available from 7 pm at the Hennepin Lobby desk.
William and Nadine McGuire Theater
If you’re in the right place at the right time, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija might cook you dinner—you and anyone else who wanders into one of his infamous installations in which he prepares Thai food as art. One of the most influential artists to emerge in the 1990s, Tiravanija builds on the idea put forth by Joseph Beuys of “social sculpture,” which seeks to diminish boundaries between art and life. The Land (1998–present), which he cofounded, is an environmental reclamation project near Chiang Mai, Thailand, that brings together art, architecture, and agriculture. Joining the artist in conversation is Bruce Sterling, science-fiction writer, Wired magazine blogger, environmentalist, and noted critic of technology and culture. His fiction includes Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology (1986) and Heavy Weather (1994). Sterling’s ideas on ecologically sound design can be found at veridiandesign.org.
Thursday, March 30, 7 pm Free
Visit the OPEN-ENDED exhibition gallery for a performance by Oakland-based poet Ise Lyfe, who has been featured on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and recently put out his third album entitled Spread the Word. Cap off the night with an open-mic session at 8 pm. Copresented by the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) and the Minnesota Spoken Word Association (NMSWA).
Teen Programs are made possible by generous support from the Surdna Foundation and Best Buy Children’s Foundation.
OPEN-ENDED Tour and Performance Lab
Thursdays, April 6 and May 4, 6 pm
Free, reservations required. Call 612.375.7600.
Bazinet Garden Lobby
What’s your story? How can you tell it? Explore key questions generated by Walker artist-in-residence projects on this unique, interactive tour and then craft a performative response using Rirkrit Tiravanija’s untitled 2005 (demo station no. 5) (2005–2006).
For information on additional activities and events to be presented on Target Free Thursday Nights during the run of the exhibition, visit calendar.walkerart.org/open-ended.
Target Free Thursday Nights are sponsored by Target. Additional support provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
OPEN-ENDED Performance Lab
March 28–June 18
What’s your story? How can you tell it? The gallery becomes a stage that inspires school groups, families, and adult groups to perform their stories in artist-designed spaces. To book a tour and performance lab, e-mail email@example.com or visit learn.walkerart.org. $3 per student (ask whether your school qualifies for discounted or waived fees). Performance lab tours are offered free as part of Free First Saturday on April 1 and as part of Target Free Thursday Nights on April 6 and May 4.
Free First Saturday
What’s your story?
Saturday, April 1, 10 am–5 pm, Free
In a series of unquestionably cool interactive programs, kids and families answer some big questions raised by the residency projects on view in the exhibition.
Performance: Kids Rock the Mic
11 am and 1 pm
Join teacher/poet Melissa Borgmann, who will show kids how to stand up and express themselves in this kids-only open-mic session.
Art-Making for the Entire Family: All About Me!
11 am–4 pm
Use a variety of materials to construct a time capsule that answers the questions Who was I yesterday? Who am I today? Who will I be in the future?
Family Gallery Adventure: Story Forms
12 noon and 2 pm, Meet in the Cargill Lounge
Get on stage and tell us your story! During a special interactive tour of OPEN-ENDED families perform responses to residency questions on a stage made by artist-in-residence Rirkrit Tiravanija.
On the Big Screen: Globe-trotters
1 and 3 pm
Take a trip around the world without leaving your comfy seat with these films: A Life to Live by Maciei Adamek of Poland, A Song for Daniel by Jason DaSilva (shot in the US, Canada, and Iraq), Kylie Goldstein, All American by American Eva Saks, and Life by Ariel Zylbersztejn of Mexico. Sponsored by Piper Jaffray Companies.
WAC-ky Tales: The Three Questions by John J. Muth
12:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 pm
In his search to be a good person, Nikolai seeks answers to three big questions. When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Unsatisfied by the answers his animal friends offer, the boy finds happiness after doing good deeds for a panda and her baby.
Thursday, March 30, 6 pm, Free
Friday, March 31, 1 pm, Free with gallery admission
Saturday, April 1, 12 noon and 2 pm, Free
Friday, April 14, 6 pm, Free with gallery admission
Friday, April 21, 1 pm, Free with gallery admission
Sunday, April 23, 12 noon, Free with gallery admission
Friday, April 28, 1 pm, Free with gallery admission
Sunday, May 7, 12 noon, Free with gallery admission
Thursday, May 11, 1 pm, Free with gallery admission
Friday, May 19, 6 pm, Free with gallery admission
Sunday, May 28, 12 noon, Free with gallery admission
Friday, June 2, 6 pm, Free with gallery admission
Thursday, June 15, 1 pm, Free with gallery admission