• June
  • 19
  • 2017

Northern Spark 2017

For one night each summer, the Twin Cities is home to a free, all-night art festival called Northern Spark. From sunset on June 10 to sunrise on June 11, Northern Light.mn presents participatory projects exploring the effects of climate change. Performances take place in neighborhoods all along Metro Transit’s Green Line, connecting Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Northern Spark 2017 challenged artists to connect actions to their art projects because together we can make change.

“The spirit of Northern Spark 2017 is dedicated to this desire to make a difference through action. Through hundreds of participatory performances, installations and surprising experiences, this year’s festival asks: What are the actions we can take individually and collectively to cumulatively create the conditions for change?”

Land Raft, a project by MFA alum Julie Benda ’16 and presented by Forecast Public Art, confronts the way that changes in temperature, higher intensity rains, and sea level rise will alter sediment distribution, landslides and erosion along our lakes, rivers and coastlines. Benda’s Land Raft is a simulation of dramatically shifting boundaries of land and water, challenging participants to work together to relocate 5 tons of sand onto a unique life/land raft set to sail.

Commutes can be a real drag, and it’s easy to feel trapped by your routine. Preston Drum MFA ’16 invited participants of his interactive installation, Traffic Jam Scene, to stop being isolated beings sitting in tin cans and become creative entities embarking on a mission to save the world instead! After stepping into the comfort of custom built cardboard cars and taking in an original superhero action flickparticipants would emerge from the experience of Traffic Jam Scene ready to return to the real world and lighten their carbon footprint. Traffic Jam Scene was presented in partnership with Northern Lights.mn.

Un:heard Resonance, a musical composition and performance by John Keston MFA ’13, chronicles “the stages of the planet’s evolution from purely geological, to biological, and finally technological” in three movements. These electronic sonatas were composed in real time with micro-sonic signals crowdsourced from the audience. “The combination of micro-sonics and accompaniment non-verbally stresses hidden geological processes, the fragility and jeopardy of the ecosystem as it faces climate change, and the rapid, global expansion of technology. It also implies that technology may eventually replace the geological and biological states of the world.” Un:heard Resonance was performed at and made possible by the Weisman Art Museum.

Also a part of the art-filled evening was 3600 Cuts, a collaborative, interdisciplinary performance by MFA mentor Piotr Szyhalski and Pramila Vasudevan. 3600 Cuts was composed of dance, sound, and multimedia projections, addressing the technological obsession of achieving finer grain and more detail and asking the question: “how can human being begin to fathom the vast impact of climate change in tandem with the immediate minutia of our daily lives?” 2nd year MFA filmmaker Zoe Cinel ’18 also participated in the project, contributed her skills as a videographer and performer. 3600 Cuts was presented by Aniccha Arts at the Southern Theater, including three 60 minute performances and a longer free form improvisation.

Photo Credits: Preston Drum, Northern Lights.mn, Jennifer Jurgens, and Kiley Van Note


For more information:

Julie Benda
Forecast Public Art
Preston Drum
Northern Lights.mn
John Keston
Weisman Art Museum
Piotr Szyhalski
Zoe Cinel
Aniccha Arts
Northern Spark 2017

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Alumni Links

Current Mentors

MFA Program Overview

MFA Print Portfolio