Lileks: Wanted: creative artwork that promotes interaction

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 12, 2013 - 5:01 PM

The city of Minneapolis is taking entries for the Creative City Challenge, which will result in “temporary, destination artwork” by the Convention Center.

Civic art has changed. The olden times: Some civic leader who tirelessly advocated for “sanitary doorknobs,” looking over our heads to a future where all could touch doorknobs without fear of Spanish flu, wearing an ever-changing wreath of pigeon fluids.

The ’60s: Some ghastly metal mess with a name like “Tetanus #3.”

Late 20th century: Whimsical, oversized things like an enormous wheelbarrow to “celebrate the city’s rich history of moving things from over there to another spot.”

And now: Head-scratching conceptual blobs, like 2013’s winner of the Challenge, the MIMMI. It used light to indicate the mood of the city, harvested from social media. If it was purple, it meant people were tweeting about Prince signing up as a defensive tackle for the Vikings. Or something. It was pretty.

Next year? Wide open. The city wants a “compelling destination project that reflects the city’s commitment to sound ecological practices and serves as a platform for social and participatory interactions, planned and informal.”

A lot of people want to have social participatory interactions — what we call “going out to dinner” — but they’ve been stymied by the lack of a platform. If they do have a platform, it might not be a destination that underscored ecological commitments.

So you can see where this will be useful. It’s also meant to be “a conceptual and physical portal for residents and visitors.” I hate when you get somewhere and there’s no conceptual portal. In Amsterdam they have one: The word IAMSTERDAM (get it?) in enormous letters. Kids climb all over it, every tourist poses in front of it. Steal it: MINNEAPOLUS. Get it? The US is meant to welcome all, and the misspelling also engages spectators to consider the state of our public schools.

That’s one idea. Another: Bring back the Weatherball. But don’t tell anyone it was a piece of commercial promotion; tell them it’s a massive abstract sculpture intended to promote climate awareness. Then just watch the unplanned interactions begin!

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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