Wednesday
Mar232011

News and Notices from ART342

ART342 has been an amazing experience. It is pure luxury to be able to spend every day making art, and in such a beautiful setting. At this point I have just one more month left, and it’s going to be a busy finish. We will be exhibiting at the Fort Collins Museum of Art (FCMOA) from April 1 – 21, with an opening on Friday, April 1 (6-9pm) and a reception and poetry reading on Friday, April 15 (7pm).  I also have a public art event scheduled for Saturday, April 16 at 2pm, in which I will be floating 100+ paper houses down the local Cache la Poudre river.

I recently completed two events with the houses and will be showing photographs and some of the houses themselves at the FCMOA exhibition.  Below is a behind-the-scenes look at how the events went down:

Propped/Toppled/Tumbled: Fort Collins was an impromptu experiment in the front yard of the ART342 residency. It resulted in some great photos and videos and the chance to meet the neighbors, who helped me pick up all 50-odd houses after they blew away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The experience inspired me to take the houses to the prairie, where friends Mickey, Amy and Jessica helped me stage another, far riskier experiment. Amy generously supplied us with a van to hold the 70-some houses and we drove an hour East to the Pawnee National Grasslands. The grasslands are a seemingly endless expanse of land and sky, whipped by wind, dry as a bone, but alive with birds and far-away herds of antelope. It is beautiful, frightening and refreshingly humbling.

   

 

In preparation for the wind I had wisely invested in a spread of 50-foot netting and some stakes. At the site we set up a house safety net, installed the borrowed camcorder (thanks, Ethan!) and arranged the houses.  The wind was strong as we unloaded them from the boxes, and it was not easy keeping them in check.

Mickey and Jess unload the houses    Jess holding down the fort But it was a fickle wind, and the first time we ran away from the set-up, nothing happened. Other times we weren't so lucky.

 

The safety net actually held up pretty well, but with the first real gust of wind a number of houses hopped the net and sped out across the prairie, which, unexpectedly enough, is covered with small but mean cacti.

The house net 

They went REALLY far

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are surprisingly resilient constructions and managed to roll pretty far, and always right out of reach. After much sprinting we finally rustled all the runaways back into the boxes and limped back to the van, our sneakers full of thorns. There's a reason why cowboys wear leather boots.

Final images of the prairie piece to come under "Recent Projects".

Next post: "Runoff" in which the houses make their final appearance on the Cache la Poudre river!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Saturday
Jan152011

ART342 Residency, Fort Collins, CO: January - April 2011

Happy New(ish) Year! 2011 begins with a wonderful opportunity to make art for four months at ART342 in Fort Collins, CO. There I'll be working amongst a handful of other artists, writers and composers while exploring the area around Fort Collins, and beyond. I'm looking forward to continuing work begun during my trip to Turkey and Greece, as well as finding new inspiration in the mountains and plains of Colorado.



Saturday
Jan152011

Art Intervention, Istanbul: Transfer (Crossing the Halic) October 24, 2010

Below is a behind-the-scenes look into my "Art Intervention, Istanbul: Transfer (Crossing the Halic)" from October 24, 2010:

To begin with, it was a gorgeous day–bright and sunny. I assembled my piece on the ground floor of the Caravansarai residency space with the help of three of the other artists working in the residency (thank goodness for assistants!) and had a lovely brunch with everyone, prepared by a local Turkish friend of the residency. Then it was down to the Halic! (Golden Horn)

The domes right outside the residency...

Surreal "fish eye" view of domes in our street. Julie is at the bottom with the bookcase.

A friend and I carried the construction while Julie, one of the residency directors, brought a small bookcase on a hand truck to use to raise the construction a bit higher within the boat.

Processing to the harbor

Once at the harbor we had to re-negotiate with the ferryman, who suddenly wanted to charge almost twice what we had agreed upon the day before.  That was really no surprise, and I was fortunate to have some native speakers to help me.  The price never went down, but I was just happy to get the piece into the boat.

Negotiating

 

And then it was off! One of the residency directors and a few of the other artists ran to take photos on the Galata bridge and the other side of the Halic.

 

The Galata bridge is the main thoroughfare between Sultanahmet and Galata and is traversed by tens (or hundreds) of thousands of people everyday. It is also always lined with hobby fisherman, so I was happy to have a built-in audience for the event. 

Past the fish restaurants…

and towards the bridge...

 

This part of the event went pretty quickly–it might have been an 8-minute trip, across the Halic and back, if even that.

After removing the piece from the boat, I decided to let it float in the water alone. I was worried about just setting it free in the water, so I attached it to a short bungee cord and hung onto it from the platform leading into the water.

Reluctant to let go....

After a few awkward and wet minutes holding onto the piece and trying to take photos, I was convinced by the audience to just let it go….

….which was exhilarating, despite my fear of either: a. causing a deadly boating accident (with my paper and cardboard sculpture, which is of course, ridiculous) or, b. getting arrested for causing a deadly boating accident, “trashing” the river, or even some kind of disrespect towards mosques. You can hear my nervous “Am I going to get arrested?” in one of the videos on my flickr page.  Classic Stephanie!!

But, truly, it felt wonderful to set the piece free and watch it interact with the river and city. It was actually very well-behaved and floated up the Halic, past the ferryboats and fisherman, not moving too far out into the river, but also not coming too close to the boats or shoreline. There were a few “bu ne?” (what’s that?) from the locals, but for the most part people seemed to take it as a regular event. A couple of fishermen got their lines tangled in it, but it just continued on its way…

We were all surprised by how long it stayed afloat and in perfect condition. We had thought we’d have to built a pontoon to float it in the river, but the cardboard and hot glue did the trick! After a while it started to peel apart and wilt, and that’s when the best part of the whole event happened: a Turkish boy swam out to it and tried to board it, but ended up capsizing it. I couldn’t have asked for better public interaction!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarkan the Conqueror

At that point it was really disintegrating, so we paid one of the boys, Sarkan, 5 lira to swim back out to bring the wreckage in. This was a bit more complicated than it looked and required a lot of helping hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the trash retrieval a ferryman arrived and tried to dock where the boys were picking up the trash. He was a bit angry and asked who made all the trash, and they said they did! Way to take one for the team, Sarkan! After they brought in all the paper I tried to give him another 5 lira, but he protested–so polite! I insisted, of course, and then took the above photo of my conquerors/rescuers.

My poor piece was now just a soggy wet mess, so we bagged it and left it by the side of the road. Thus ended what turned out to be a spectacular event!

The carcass of my domes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Friday
Jan072011

Caravansarai Residency 2010, Istanbul: Cast and Stage

Finally, we are now at my residency at Caravansarai, www.caravansarai.info, which I will be leaving in just a few days. But it’s been a wonderful, inspiring, exciting experience that I am so, so grateful to have had. The best part of the residency are, of course, the people! The directors, Julie and Anika, are two amazing and resourceful women who made me feel very much at home, introduced me to their friends, shared with me their food, tea and coffee (always the quickest way to my heart), and helped me with the many questions I had about living and making art in Istanbul. I was also very fortunate to have not just two wonderfully friendly and talented artists living in the residency at the same time, Sara and Gerardo, but also their super-cool friends and artistic colleagues, Audrey, Betty and later Anna, who came every day to work. They travel as artists as a group (so ideal!) and more info. and their individual websites can be found at: www.palatti.net.

 

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