Minneapolis, 2023 April: 7-11-13-14-20-26-27-29 8-10pm - Free and available to the public
continuing 4/26-4/27-4/29 - weather permitting
Facing the Fire (2) is a three sided projection mapping & audio installation in my neighborhood at the ruins of the former 3rd Precinct (which, for my international friends, was the building that housed the officers who murdered George Floyd),
Evenings in April, starting 4/7. The "performance" runs 35 minutes, and will be looped 3 times each night from approximately 8pm to 9:45pm. Consider coming at 8:30 when it'll be perfectly dark out.
“Facing the Fire” reflects on the murder of George Floyd, police brutality, and the civil unrest of 2020. Originally presented in the fall of 2022 on Lake Street East, east of Hiawatha Avenue in the Longfellow Neighborhood of Minneapolis, “Facing the Fire” was composed of seven performances of projection art and sound conducted on abandoned and damaged properties all along Lake Street. Local music and sound artist Queen Drea Tolson participated in two of those performances, and is the composer and curator of the music in this iteration of Facing the Fire. It was at that first performance here at the ruins of the former 3rd Precinct where Paul met Chris Mozena, board member of Longfellow Rising, who then pitched the idea of remounting Facing the Fire, with a deeper focus on social justice, and the municipal neglect of the property, which is a persistent reminder of the horrible events of that summer and an ever-present eyesore that magnifies the City’s longstanding inability to address the community’s needs.
The projection art in Facing the Fire is composed of hundreds of images sourced from local and international media, street art from around the nation, graphs whose statistics chart the violence perpetrated onto local communities by outside radical fascist groups, archival images from the history of civil unrest along Lake Street since the 1900’s, and many recent images of the destroyed buildings in the neighborhood, images of citizens protesting during the summer of 2020, and children, for whom we need to build a better future. Below are a handful of screen grabs from the projection mapping software I use (MadMapper).
I am immensely grateful for the participation of Queen Drea Tolson, and the support of Longfellow Rising who is funding this project.
Longfellow Rising is a diverse group of business owners, property-owners, nonprofit leaders, workers, and residents who have either lost buildings and businesses due to fire and civil unrest, or whose businesses have been closed and lives impacted by fire and civil unrest, and/or who are deeply involved with supporting and providing relief for the residents and business and property owners in the neighborhood.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Paul Herwig: Paul is a veteran visual and performing artist of 40+ years, working in France, England, Hungary, Canada, and throughout the US. He has been living and working in Minneapolis since 1999. Paul is a McKnight Artist Fellow and recipient of numerous local awards and accolades for his work in local dance and theater through his company Off-Leash Area (led with his partner Jennifer Ilse), including Sage and Ivey awards, over a dozen listings in the local press’ Best of the Year Lists, named a City Pages Artist Of the Year, and a recipient of numerous grant awards. As Future Projections, a new company creating projection art for events, performances, and public art projects, Paul has been lighting up the city’s stages and streets with his live animated projection art, immersing audiences in vibrant and otherworldly imagery, and bringing ephemeral beauty and wonder to the forgotten and neglected corners of the urban landscape. Paul has lived and worked for nearly 25 years in the Longfellow neighborhood. For more on Paul and his work, please visit: www.futureprojections.net, www.offleasharea.org, and www.phstagedesign.weebly.com
Queen Drea: Among other peer acknowledgments, Queen Drea is a recipient of the 2022 McKnight Foundation Composers Fellowship, and a 2021 Jerome Hill Artist Finalist. She is a sound alchemist. Mixing up potions laced with looped natural and affected vocals, jagged rhythms, and found sounds. Queen Drea has created her own interdisciplinary work about depression in the Black community, a music and movement piece titled “From Black Wombs” about two sisters who have lost their parents in the revolutionary war against white supremacy, and a four-movement piece about an African creator goddess named Mawu (Lisa), associated with the Sun and Moon in African Dahomeymythology. "I have been investigating some thoughts on Black Love and how it is strong enough to withstand being denied. Acknowledging that the way we came to this country and the way our families were separated in the name of capitalism is the reason why we are separated now. Acknowledging the pain of this reality. Acknowledging the beauty of this reality. Acknowledging Black Love in its many forms and expressing this love through my art.” – Queen Drea. For more on Queen Drea’s work please visit: www.queendrea.com
Queen Drea’s Artist Statement: To the community, with love.
Queen Drea’s Sound Score Features mixtape version of songs by these Twin Cities Artists:
A Public Art Project in the Longfellow Neighborhood, Minneapolis October 2022 - April 2023
In October 2022 long-time Howe resident Paul Herwig presented “Facing the Fire”, a public art project consisting of several live music and projection art performances at sites along East Lake Street in Minneapolis, which was one of the epicenters of civil unrest during the tumultuous repercussions resulting of the murder of George Floyd and repeated police abuses in the community. Paul's aim was to amplify the voices of residents of Longfellow and temporarily transform the scarred physical properties of the area into hauntingly beautiful temporary artistic installations that resonate with the experiences of that summer, and the aspirations of the community today.
Paul invited residents in the Minneapolis 55406 & 55407 zip codes to submit responses to a questionnaire. The responses directly inspired and informed the artists as they prepared and created their work. The text in the projection design was taken from those responses. Paul wanted to truthfully reflect the feelings, memories, and hopes of the people who actually live in the neighborhood, and who were present during the civil unrest that unfolded the week of May 26th 2020.
This project will be remounted at the ruins of the former 3rd Precinct building in April 2023.