Q&A with Anne Dennington for a Preview of FLUX 2011

Jeff Demetriou and Fake Love, Homesick, 2011, concept image. Image courtesy fluxprojects.org.

On Friday, September 30, 2011, Flux Projects is once again starting the next few months of Atlanta’s artistic endeavors with its FLUX event, a sprawling outdoor experimental art exhibit in Castleberry Hill (click here for BURNAWAY’s review of FLUX 2010). Now settled as a firm fixture for temporary art in Atlanta, Flux Projects announced itself to the scene with a dance performance by gloATL inside Lenox Square mall over Valentine’s Day weekend last year. Being a former (amateur) dancer myself, I’m anxious to see how troupes such as gloATL and Zoetic Dance Ensemble incorporate the city into their choreography.

All the artists, of course, will incorporate the city into their pieces; the event takes place in the streets, after dark. Like a museum turned inside out for a night, Castleberry Hill will expose the nerves and senses of the city to the public. Films projected onto the outsides of building walls will give passersby the surreal sensation that the city is pulsing with movement. Eric Corriel’s Water Will Be Here, for example, explores the city as if it were underwater. Conceptually, this kind of interactivity is key to the event as a whole. The idea is to envelop the city as well as the viewers into the spectacle, making the audience feel immersed in another world, if only for a few hours. Wanting to find out more about the organization’s goals with FLUX, I emailed a few questions to Flux Projects’s executive director, Anne Dennington, who kindly took the time to respond despite her whirlwind schedule preceding the event.

Does this year’s event have a theme? How does Flux curate projects if there is not a central theme? Has the selection process changed since FLUX 2010?

As with last year, projects were selected from two calls for proposals: first, for commissioned projects and, second, for affiliated projects. Affiliated projects do not receive financial support, but they do receive help with logistics, and they are included and promoted as officially sanctioned projects.

To date, we have elected not to establish a theme, rather to remain open to the projects that are on the minds of our artists. Artists have had too few opportunities for commissioned, temporary projects in Atlanta, and we want to limit our view as little as possible. We have artists with wonderful ideas, and these have generally exceeded the funds available for realizing such works.

While there is not a theme for FLUX, climate change, particularly around water, was clearly the most prevalent topic on the minds of artists who submitted. This held true for projects that were selected as well as those that were not.

What excites you most about the projects featured this year?

So many things, but three things in particular are on my mind as we plan for the event. First, the range of projects featured: the diversity of artistic disciplines, the scale of the projects, and the myriad ways in which these engage spaces and the audience. Second, the collaborations that came together to realize [the work]: 206 artists collaborating on 34 projects, often with people from multiple backgrounds. And, third, the opportunities for growth that FLUX continues to present for its artists, who with this year’s projects are working with new technologies, realizing projects on a grander scale, and learning from experts in different fields.

The outdoor setting provides a context that resonates throughout the whole show, as all the artists have to consider a similar set of problems with the space. Does the setting itself provide its own theme for the event? How do the raw, largely abandoned spaces used in the event affect the creative process?

I would not say that the setting provides a theme, but certainly the fact that the event is only one night, and [that it] occurs after dark, creates some parameters. There is a very limited time to see a number of projects, and audience members will be flowing from one to another continuously. It is an immersive event, and Castleberry, being a contained neighborhood with human-scaled architecture, makes it perfect for this.

Castleberry actually has fewer abandoned spaces than most people seem to imagine it has. Of these, there are definitely four that continually capture artists’ imaginations: the empty building shells, on Nelson Street beside the Erickson Building and on Walker Street backing up to the spur, and the unoccupied retail spaces in Castleberry Point along Centennial Olympic Park Drive and at the point with Nelson Street. All are being used for FLUX 2011.

What are some projects that integrate the spaces in effective or interesting ways?

Two projects that represent the range are Jeff Demetriou and Fake Love’s Homesick and The Collective Project’s The Hunt.

Homesick is a site-specific, multimedia installation that includes a 3D projection in the empty building shell at 311 Nelson Street. The 3D technology produces a three-dimensional image of the building façade in a computer program. This creates the optical illusion that the façade is interacting with the video when projected.

Homesick chronicles the birth and destruction of the environment as told from the standpoint of Nature. The audience will experience the project from the sidewalk, behind the chain-linked fence, a position that emphasizes man’s separation from the natural world.

Site specific in a very different way, The Hunt is a performance designed for FLUX that combines ensemble theatre with audience interaction. Ten performers will roam Walker Street dressed in different interpretations of “the hunt”: a businessman late for a meeting, an artist looking for his Muse, a preacher looking for God. Each has lost his way and will engage with audience members and other FLUX projects as they seek to find “it.” Periodically throughout the night, the performers will converge on one of three stages for short, ten-minute scenes.

How do you incorporate interactivity into the event? It seems that gloATL’s dance performance in 2009 was a great success due to its engaging the audience in a physical way as it wound through Castleberry Hill, yet you chose not to repeat that in 2010. How do you balance the importance of audience participation against artwork that might be more passive, yet no less valuable?

The first Flux Project took place in 2010, and it was a performance by gloATL called Bloom in Lenox Square mall over Valentine’s weekend. gloATL went on to have a very busy summer and fall and did not submit to perform for the inaugural FLUX 2010. We are delighted to have them participating this year.

We selected works based upon artistic merit and [how they] fit into a one-night event. We focused on projects that could remain active throughout the evening. We learned last year that projects presenting a series of short performances are not ideal for FLUX, at least not with an event the size of ours. Project spaces went dark for too long. We also realized how difficult it is to have performance works that remain active for six hours, particularly when these go past midnight. For this reason, we will conclude all the projects at midnight except one. At this time, the final project, the ancient Chinese celebration of Dashuhua, “Beating Flowers into Trees,” will begin at Elliott Street Pub.

What do you want Atlantans to take away from this event, conceptually?

We want them to leave with a better understanding of what is possible through temporary public projects. Flux Projects presents works throughout the year, but FLUX is an intense look at the diverse ways in which artists are interacting with audiences and public space. It is also a glimpse into the richness of our creative community and the artistic standards at which our artists are working.

Check the FLUX 2011 website for directions and parking information. The event will run from 8PM to 12Midnight on Friday, September 30, 2011.


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Comment(2)

  • ktauches
    ktauches
    September 21, 2011 at

    thanks for the shout out! Zarilli’s underwater atlanta was hilarious!

    . . .can’t wait to see “homesick.” the empty space next to eyedrum’s new diggs on nelson street has always been a favorite art venue!

    see you all there. kt

  • Jeremy Abernathy
    September 21, 2011 at

    Nice interview. Speaking of underwater cities, this reminded me of Tom Zarrilli’s performance + 2D works at Eyedrum a while back … I believe, in 2007. The joke was that, instead of Underground Atlanta, it was all some sort of resort or theme park submerged underneath a huge lake. The show was curated by Karen Tauches, covering themes of urban/rural/suburban development. Hilarious *and educational.

    Plus there was that Futurama episode where a mermaid explains the history of Atlanta. “Look at these fabulous ruins!”
    http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=156745

    Sorry you’ll have to wait for the commercial. There weren’t any videos on YouTube ….

    It’s interesting that several artists turned to this theme independently of each other. Or perhaps some of them shared ideas beforehand …. Hmm.

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