Public Operations, 2016
Akimbo Dance Festival, Station North Tool Library, Baltimore MD
Public Operations is an interactive, site specific installation created for the 2016 Akimbo Dance Festival, and designed for the Baltimore Station North Tool Library, a community center that offers woodworking workshops and from which members of the community can borrow tools for their own use.
The forms that comprise the piece create a large ‘architectural marionette’, and are based on the architecture of the Tool Library. They are made of papercrete and steel and are connected to each other with handmade hinges, creating structures that rise and collapse according to their operation by the public. Some structures demand the cooperation of several visitors, and some are placed far from the handle that operates them, creating movements in unexpected parts of the space: elements around one’s body might move as a result of one’s own act, or the act of a total stranger.
In the context of a dance festival, both the architectural elements and the visitors who moved them became dancers, and the act of building and constructing - a dance. In the context of a marionette sculpture, the characteristics of concrete as a material that represents rigidity, monumentality and permanence were enhanced and challenged. Marionettes are often referred to as “the mask from which the human actor has completely withdrawn”. In “Public Operations” I attempt to pull the puppeteer back to the stage, while also returning movement to concrete and engaging the public in a silent dance in which everyone is influenced and influential.