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Walk Back to Your Body

September 3, 2022 - January 1, 2023

Walk Back to Your Body

Fall 2022

Opening Reception: September 3, 11am-1pm

Artists: Alison Hiltner, Anna Marie Shogren, Peng Wu, Yuko Taniguchi

Curator: Boris Oicherman

What does it mean to be in conversation with your body? Many social, cultural, and political conventions we live by today discipline how we experience our bodies. They are often defined by their productivity, utility, fitness, and so on, but rarely through vulnerability and reflection. The exhibition “Walk Back to Your Body” at the Weisman Art Museum in 2019 presented works by four artists who collaborated for a year with researchers at the Medical School of the University of Minnesota, all reconsidering the ways in which our bodies feature (or, perhaps, do not feature?) in our daily lives, thus disrupting the automatized ways in which we navigate the world. The exhibition in 2022 will spread out in the architecture of the Rochester Art Center, presenting a new evolution of works by the same artists.

Social practice artist Peng Wu and poet Yuko Taniguchi collaborate to create the Breathing Room: an installation allowing visitors to rest—and even have a nap in the art center! In an increasingly restless and disconcerting world, the Breathing Room invites viewers to lie down alongside a stranger and stop, if only for a moment, to go “off the clock” and engage in equal, sincere, and intimate conversations and rest. This collaborative artwork questions what keeps us away from rest as we peacefully nap together.

Yuko Taniguchi and her collaborator at the University of Minnesota psychiatrist Dr. Kathryn Cullen, explore the impact of creative practices on the wellbeing of adolescents facing pressing mental health challenges. Taniguchi’s poem, Walk Back To Your Body, also synthesized her own experiences of collaboration with those of the other artists in the exhibition. Yuko’s piece hones in on the nature of the relationship forged between the bodily and the cerebral, as does the work by Peng, Anna, and Alison. Walk Back To Your Body is therefore the guiding sentiment of this exhibition which calls to bring us back into our bodies from all the places that our minds take us to.

The Breathing Room includes the screening of a new motion poem that offers a collective contemplation of mental health challenges. The animation film was created by Youyang Yu in collaboration with Yuko Taniguchi and Peng Wu.

Inside my eyes

Sometimes, my thoughts fly around

inside my mind like a sand storm.

So I sit and shut my eyes, which is when

those enormous elephants mysteriously appear-

They come as a tribe, slowly walk across my mind.

I watch each elephant, each with a different color

of skin, coarse and wrinkly. These colorful elephants are

here for a moment like a rainbow after hard rain.

Their large feet are pressing until

my ground is solid and strong.

When I open my eyes, they are gone.

They always come to me in the midst of my sand storm.

Elephants have incredible memories.

They never forget where they have been.

Next time, I will walk

with my elephants.

Peng Wu also created a mini Noon Nap Station for the Rochester Art Center staff at the art center in a quiet corner of the basement where staff’s offices are located. Unlike in the US, in China and many other countries the culture of noon nap is widely accepted even in the most overworked office spaces. The Noon Nap Station reflects on the differences in sleep cultures and gives permission for the bodies to rest as a form of resistance.

Anna Marie Shogren’s interactive installation Work/Lifelong Choreographies was inspired by her experiences as a dance artist and a caregiver. In collaboration with Kristine Talley of the School of Nursing, as well as Amanda Sharp from Physical Therapy and Elizabeth Bye and Caroline Albers from Apparel Design, Anna’s improvisational movement practice invited viewers to experience the physical conditions of older adults. Wearable garments such as the Neuropathy Gloves and the Shoulder Impingement Shirt animate conversations about the realities of age and loss of vitality by provoking playful, tactile fascination with movement.

At the Rochester Art Center, this empathic exploration will be extended through a rolling relational work which will softly realize vigils (spaces for active dying) for self-selecting individuals at this current point in their lives, for the purpose of activating love, comfort, and self-advocacy now, and/or an embodied planning for later. Shogren is collaborating with stylist and musician, Lisa Loew, to create visual translations of these intimate and ethereal exchanges. Audiences are invited to join local volunteers from Seasons Hospice and Mayo Clinic Hospice in sitting bedside.

This work is made in gratitude for Cassandra Baker, Margaret Coleman, Non Edwards, Pamela Hugdahl, Lisa Loew, Emmett Ramstad, NC Little Hospice.

Alison Hiltner’s work produced tactile, physical surfaces through which one can experience the heartbeat. Hiltner collaborated with biotechnology researcher Dr. Brenda Ogle, neurophysiologist Dr. Paul Laizzo, and software programmers Brian Hadyen and artist Maxwell Hoaglund to create an interface that allows participants to “hold” one another’s heartbeat. Translating the most familiar signal of life, the heartbeat, into a touchable surface, it highlights that all life forms long for connection. Something that can be shared and felt in real time. It is a link to our interior physiological structure, every heartbeat represents an individual experience either on a psychological or physiological level. It is intimate and communal, abstracted yet more real than we can normally touch. An ever-changing multi experiential piece that enables us to hold a heartbeat, revealing how our connection is always just beneath the surface. Hiltner will further examine what lies beneath with a new work in consultation with Dr. Tay Netoff, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, producing a visual experience of brain reactivity.

Walk Back to Your Body is organized by Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Sponsored by the University of Minnesota Rochester to honor the centrality of wellbeing and creativity to our campus community of students, faculty and staff.

Press Release_ Walk Back to Your Body
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