10x ARTRES: Minnesota
This residency event was the most exciting and nerve-racking one that I’ve ever done. I had been away from Mpls for a whole year, where I’ve grown up as a young person, came into my own as an artist and later began my first 10X residency experiment in 2012, and was so warmly received by the arts community and this milieu of which I was a part. Now, I was so excited to show the Scots, who had become my friends, my city.
I had an inkling that I needed to find a host living here, because having surrendered our house and put everything in storage when we moved to Scotland the August prior, I was no longer an embedded host. All summer, I tried to line this up, whilst in the middle of conducting the Bothy event and the 10XScotland event – I knew I needed one of my former art students or any of my conscientious assistants from 10X projects past, like Maddy, or Katy or Lindsey P. Everyone I reached out to was unable, and I totally struck out. I did have Lindsey P and Katy on the line to tentatively help and then so close to the residency time, they just bailed, heartbreakingly, though I understood their good reasons. I found myself unexpectedly in the lurch without a host within days of boarding the plane for Minnesota, and had to punt. I realized I would just have to do my best, and trust my instincts, and rely more heavily on the local residents – Andy, Derek, and Drew – to help tour guide and drive the others around. Several alumni could also step up, I knew, and I felt very confident in my three site hosts whom I’d known for decades, Rosie, Jen, and Cameron.
I also wanted to test the limits of the autonomy of the group; could the basis of the formation hold, could it operate without the handholding of an on-site embedded host? At the end of the day, no, it couldn’t. Or at least, not very well. Or at least, not this particular formation of residency assemblage.
I stayed initially at my mom’s house in Woodbury, a suburb about 30 minutes drive east of the Twin Cities, and used her car for the 18 days, driving back and forth for sleeping a few times but then just remained in the city, sleeping on friends’ couches. I spent my time doing lots of driving, buying household and camping supplies, making lists, procuring gear, acting as a guide, pre-planning, post follow-ups, phone always in my hand. I was so excited to give everyone a well-rounded taste of Minnesota and greater Minneapolis– urban, rural and lakeside.
Through diligent planning and generous phone calling, I was able to intersect the group with a lot of things already happening. They intersected with many local artists important to the feel and unique character of the Mpls arts scene (30+); with grassroots and independent arts organisations such as Cameron’s Third Rail publication, the Soap Factory, and Works Progress; with galleries and curators; and with culturally essential drinking and dining establishments that made up the specific milieu at that time. Exploring the city on bike and by car and walking, and once wild swimming in Cedar Lake, they had sometimes four or five intersections in a day.
Perhaps my zeal to open pathways for them into my own scene, my own former habitus, created too many pre-planned trips, outings, and intersections. Perhaps it was too much, as there was no time for reflection, to be able to absorb it and take it all in. Furthermore, because I was couchsurfing myself, a few nights at Janet’s house and a few nights at Katinka’s flat, I was not in HQ to sleep, or be a part of the flow of the day. I had my own simultaneous agenda; I was giving a reading at my good friends Morgan and Bruce’s wedding on our fourth day in the city (13/09) and attended several events around that, and I had also demarcated time to see friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. Due to this, I was not present for many things happening in the residency for chunks of days, and I did not have my finger on the pulse of anything – which was OK + NOT OK. Things unravelled in real time in the residency and I couldn’t cope with them adequately in the moment when I and they needed me to be doing so, and before I knew it, the next unraveling thing shortly came along. I dealt with what I could, when I could, and the rest just went by.
I was exhausted from this.
I was flat on my back.
I was elated, still, at times.
I felt like I’d brought the constantly changing weather of Scotland with me, metaphorically. I wanted to push the residency, to test its limits, until it broke. I was horrified that it broke, and that I’d let these people who trusted me, and who I trusted, down.
Or did I? Was it so tensile, so malleable, in spite of me, that it found a form all on its own?
This emotional and personally difficult experience left me wholly unsettled after residency was over; I couldn’t quite unpack it, for months and years. Such a deeply personal investment in something that I threw myself into for three full weeks, spent every last dollar in my bank account to support the project and the people in it, and flew four people 3,000 miles across the ocean, had triggered a complete and total shift in my affect. The effortlessness and magic with which I had always come to and created these events, these social sculptures, these DIT residency collaborations, had switched off. Something had crossed over inside me, and I couldn’t identify what had happened.
To a large degree, I still can’t.
- Night Owl Farm, CSA
North Branch, MN