Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The ice house as art

For people who are unfamiliar with life in a cold climate, ice houses are kind of hard to wrap one's mind around. 

Once the ice is thick enough, people set up little houses all over the state's lakes so they can fish year-round (through holes they drill in the ice) in some degree of comfort.  And sometimes the comfort is quite high!  You can have beds and TVs and everything in your fish house, or you can keep it pretty primitive.  

(I would be curious here to get a sense of how many of you readers are from Minnesota and are like "blah blah duh," and how many readers are utterly confused!)

The point is - and it's a theme throughout Miles and Laurel this winter - is that while Minnesotans do spend more time inside during the cold months, there are also a lot of people doing a wide range of outdoor activities.

Like Art Shanty Projects!

Recently, Sara and I trekked to Medicine Lake in Plymouth, a second-ring suburb of Minneapolis, to check out this outdoor art project.  Per the website, Art Shanty Projects is:
...a four-week exhibition that is part sculpture park, part artist residency and part social experiment, inspired by traditional ice fishing houses that dot the state's lakes in winter. It is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which the relatively unregulated public space of the frozen lake can be used as a new and challenging artistic environment to expand notions of what art can be.
Sara is an art shanty veteran, but I had No Idea what to expect.

Okay, first, check out the whole scene.  That's all lake, although I'm facing toward shore.  Because this winter has been so warm, the shanties are way closer to shore than usual.

There were 24 shanties this year: all different colors and all very different from each other.  It was a gorgeous weekend afternoon, so it was crazy busy, and the shanties were packed inside.  There were people skiing and riding bikes and dancing, plus lots of families walking around.  Sara took a picture of a family pulling their baby in its carseat in a laundry basket.  It was pretty awesome.

Right away, we made a beeline toward the Monsters Under the Bed Shanty, which I think I can safely call my favorite.

See?  There's a bed on top, and then big monsters underneath.  On the website, this was advertised as a "monster-positive environment."  See that little blue claw at the bottom?  On every wall inside, there was a hole you could stick your arm into, and then you'd inadvertently be waving the monster arms around.

There was also this sign near the entrance of the Monster Shanty:

Then we saw the Robot Reprise - a big robot that moves around when enough people generate enough momentum to push it!

Then there's the Naughty Shanty, which I originally pegged as one of the cutest little shanties in the whole group.  See?  So cute.

Turns out beneath its cute facade, it's, well, naughty. Sara is posing next to a naughty little diorama.  My favorite part about this picture is actually the Monster Shanty photobombing.

And now I'm slightly wary of posting a picture of this one, which I didn't enter but thought was just very pretty.  It may also be naughty.  I just don't know. I just want a window like that in my home someday, okay?

Finally, audience participation was a major component in many shanties.  (Well, I guess all of the shanties, to be specific - but some depended on it more than others.)  There was one shanty that was basically plain with white walls on the outside (with "Mazatlan" spraypainted on it), and inside it was like a little dark dance club, with wall-to-wall people dancing to "Love Shack."
The other dance-related shanty was the Audio Adventure Shanty, which seems to provide different kinds of audio tours.  Sara and I saw this group of 15-20 people dancing like crazy in the middle of the shanties, all wearing these pink earmuff headsets.  

"What is going on over there?" I said. 

"I think there is something in their headsets!" Sara said.  (I think part of why Sara is so fab is that she didn't automatically assume there was something in their headsets, that people might just be rocking out with pink earmuffs on for the heck of it.)

We got a little closer and saw the schedule: It was time for the dance mob, held at the top of every hour!

We put on the earmuffs, and sure enough, Rihanna was blasting at a healthy volume.  What else could one do but join the dance party?

This whole kind of project-exhibit-spectacle-participatory festival is pretty new to me. (For example, I'm not sure that "cute" and "pretty" are the most precise adjectives for this art.)  But I had a great time wandering through the shanties.  Some of the shanties have blogs on the website, and it was amazing to see how much work went into building them. It was awfully neat to see up close how such creative people responded to the challenge of making a basic ice house into art - and how closely the community of artists had banded together to support each other and this project.

Check it out!  It runs through this weekend.

1 comment:

  1. I love that me suggesting STUPIDLY that something might be in the headphones is ENDEARING in your world. HA!