10 ways to light your Northern Spark


Imagining Northern Spark. Maquette and photography by Rasun Mehringer. Design: Matthew Rezac

This weekend a bunch of Twin Cities arts lovers are going to attempt to pull an all-nighter. Northern Spark begins at sunset Saturday night, and lasts until sunrise Sunday morning. More than 200 artists and organizations are presenting approximately 100 different performances or installations all over the metro area, There’s everything from music and dance to light projections and performance art.

Feeling up to the challenge? Even if you’re not able to stay up as late as you used to, you could probably take in a fair amount by midnight. Here are some of the more provacative items on the program:

1. Start it off right

There are not one, but two opening ceremonies for Northern Spark – one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis. Both take place at 8:55pm. If you’re in St. Paul you can enjoy an Art Car Fanfare while in Minneapolis you can enjoy another sort of horn concert along the Stone Arch Bridge.

2. Take a trip down the river

Get on board the Mississippi Megalops, a boat ride featuring singers, scientists and storytellers, bringing the nature and history of the river to life.

3. Enjoy a beautiful nightmare

Not all nightmares have to be scary, but they should be haunting… Andrea Stanislav’s “Nightmare” fits the bill. An image of a white horse appears to gallop on the river – it’s actually a very large video screen placed on a barge.

4. Ping Pong!

Ping with Wing! Wing Young Huie presents a retrospective of his photography (that’s more than 1500 images) in an empty lot on the West Bank, but if you tire of looking at images and want to practice your forehand, you can participate in any one of several mini ping-pong tournaments going on in the lot, using – of course – glow in the dark balls (really useful for when you accidentally over shoot it into the bushes).

5. Getting from Here to There

Northern Spark offers free bus rides all night long to get from one event to the next, but why let the time in transit go to waste? Please Remain Seated offers an artistic look at the bus-riding experience through “short enigmatic prounouncements” to “passenger dance lines.”

6. What’s your frequency, Kenneth?

Station Identification transforms the Foshay Tower’s observation deck into a radio compass, in which visitors roam the radio dial with their feet.

7. It’s for you

Barbarra Claussen’s red phone booths are not some retro send-up of British quaintness; they are about power, who has it, and how they communicate it. Modern Monoliths Migrating are a series of phone booths playing taped messages that force, reward, and persuade the masses to do what’s desired.

8. Make your mark

Thanks to the Soap Factory, on Saturday night you can mark local buildings and not get charged with the clean-up. Laser Tag is large scale virtual graffiti projected into the night a monumental scale. Volunteers will be on hand to show visitors the ropes.

9. Gather round the fire

Starting at 3am, people will congregate on Target Field at the Walker Art Center to share stories – bedtime stories, to be precies. A series of local writers will each tell a story approximately ten minutes long, with the sole goal of NOT putting you to sleep.

10. Get some sleep

Can’t keep your eyes open any more? Not to worry, because upstairs in Walker Art Center’s Gallery 8, you can curl up on the floor and be sung to sleep… while people come and look at you. Hey – now you’re the art!

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