Walker Art Center

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Agonism Workshops

Part of Discourse and Discord: Architecture of Agonism from the Kitchen Table to the City Street

Team up with a media theorist, designer, choir director, and other experts from across the country for a unique hands-on approach to exploring the architecture of agonism. Preregistration required.

Embodying Agonism

  • Friday, April 13, 12:30–2:30 pm
    $10 ($8 Walker members)
    Gallery 8

Why do we think it is so important for everyone to sit down and talk at a democratic gathering? What if, instead, we stood up? Or ran? Or engaged in some other form of sport? The ancient Greek term “agôn” means a competition or a contest, like the Olympic Games. So, the notion of an agonistic democracy implies at least the possibility that a space of democracy might look more like the Metrodome, where the Vikings play, than the House and Senate Chambers of the Minnesota State Capitol. It might also nudge us to imagine that, instead of chairs and tables, democratic participants need mobile equipment of the sorts that Krzysztof Wodiczko has designed for migrants and strangers to strengthen their voice on the street and on the move.

Over lunch, participants will play with furniture, sketch new spaces, and think hard about how to design for democracy if it is a competition or even a serious game.

This workshop is led by Warren Sack, a software designer and media theorist whose work explores theories and designs for online public space and public discussion. He is associate professor of film and digital media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Lunch included.

Harmony from Discord

  • Saturday, April 14, 10 am–4 pm
    $10 ($8 Walker members)
    Star Tribune Foundation Art Lab

Join Jacquie Fuller and Molly Balcom Raleigh for a workshop inspired by the collaborative working process of the Prairie Fire Lady Choir—a group well-versed in creating harmony from discord. The outcome of this workshop is to channel ideas from the symposium into a chorally-expressed, consensus-shaped statement on collaboration and agonism to produce a song. Participants are required to work as a group to write, learn, and perform a song in a public space. You do not need to know how to read sheet music or be a good singer to participate. Lunch included.

Engaging the Avenue: Agonistic Tactics for Social Design

  • Saturday, April 14, 10 am–4 pm
    $10 ($8 Walker members)
    Gallery 8

This workshop explores ways that ideas about agonistic democracy translate into design tactics. Using Hennepin Avenue as a site, participants conceptualize and prototype a series of agonistic interventions that engage the physical and media spaces of the street, where debates about the future of this urban corridor are unfolding.

Activities include rapid research into the history of Hennepin Avenue and its planning process, brainstorming, lo-fidelity prototyping, and the presentation of concepts. Participants will have access to a 40-foot model of Hennepin Avenue and computers equipped with Betaville, an open-source software in which new works of public art, architecture, urban design, and development can be shared.

Participants from all backgrounds are welcome. The only requirement is a willingness to engage in radical imagination and hands-on political design. Led by Carl DiSalvo, assistant professor in the Digital Media Program in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Carl Skelton, founding director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center (BxmC) and the Integrated Digital Media programs of NYU’s Polytechnic Institute. Lunch included.


Copresented with Northern Lights.mn. Mack Lectures are made possible by generous support from Aaron and Carol Mack. Additional support is provided by the Jerome Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and US CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative.