Last weekend marked the beginning of Taking Place, a series of lectures, screenings, talks and events initiated by Stephanie Snyder, Matthew Stadler and Sam Gould.
The premises of this nearly two month long investigation is to pose questions that disrupt the notion of place as a geographical entity, instead proposing that place is as much of an outcome of social and psychological forces than geographic realities. Each one of the three organizers of Taking Place shares a particular interest in this notion, further articulated in the small catalog that accompanies the series. Gould, working through the artist collective Red76, has undertaken many projects that activate spaces in unexpected ways, often employing social gathering as a means to lend new meaning to a particular place. One of the latest Red76 projects, the Laundry Lecture series, appropriates the laundromat as ad hoc lecture hall. Stephanie Snyder, curator of Reed College's Cooley Gallery, is deeply interested in diasporic space - one example of the transportability of space - and the collective imagination that sustains these displaced spaces. Matthew Stadler strives to find meaning in contemporary places where designations like "city" and "country" are inadequate to describe the spaces we occupy.
Although I didn't catch all of the first weekend's events, I did catch work by artist collective Dynamite Family, who was on hand last Sunday to present posters from their ongoing project, Potential Energy, and Mini Movie Fest. Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, members of Dynamite Family have recently embarked on a series of projects in an attempt to connect with and solicit work from other similar collectives around the U.S. Their most recent projects share a sense of transportability, making their inclusion within the lineup of Taking Place participators a very logical choice.
Potential Energy is a collection of black and white posters, each one representing an unrealized project submitted by another artist collective. Collecting these poster designs from other artist groups, Dynamite Family revels in the weighty potential (or inevitable failure) of these ideas while giving them a new avenue for being realized, albeit as a concept, in various cities throughout the US. It's concept as art, but with a heavy emphasis on social networking.
The Mini Movie Fest shares a similar portability with Potential Energy and is accompanied by an in-depth users guide instructing users how to conduct their own mini movie fest. The movies themselves were created using the movie function of a digital still camera or videophone. Dynamite Family collected over 50 mini movies from friends and fellow artists as well as by soliciting entries, mostly on college campuses. Gathering up what are normally more ephemeral pieces of documentation holds much potential, especially given prolificness of these types of low-quality, cheap ways to document oneself. Dynamite Family doesn't take the global view on the implications of having such modes of documentation so readily available, but the resulting collection of short clips from aspiring artists, art school students and strangers hold another kind of intrigue, as Dynamite Family works within the bounds of their own social network to recognize these small acts of art making.
What's Taking Place Next?
True to the nature of the topic, Taking Place is prone to last minute venue changes, so please be sure to get on the Red76 mailing list to get the latest updates. A calendar is also available here, but emails seem to have the most up to date information.
This weekend's events include a lecture on "serial spaces" in contemporary urban life by author Diana George, followed by insights on the serial space of Beaverton by Matthew Stadler and a reading by poet and prose writer Aaron Peck.
Saturday, July 30, 7 p
Aalto Lounge (back room) * 3536 SE Belmont St
On Sunday, join Stadler for an experiment in psychogeography on the MAX to see how the Situationist derive might translate into a more contemporary manifestation of urban exploration and "open-ended derangement" on the light rail.
July 31, 6:30 p
Meet at the Rose Quarter Blue Line stop, Westbound and board the 1st train to Hillsboro.