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Julianna Barwick and Mas Ysa

barwickjulianna_largeMay 6th sees the release of Will, the revelatory third full-length album by Brooklyn experimental artist Julianna BarwickConceived and self-produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the ominous, compelling Will is a departure from 2013’s Alex Somers-produced Nepenthe. If that last record conjured images of gentle, thick fog rolling over desolate mountains, then Will is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds looming and restorative all at once.

Barwick’s life over the past several years has largely been lived in transit, and as such the genesis of Will was not beholden to location; Barwick worked on the album in a variety of locales, from a desolate house in upstate New York to the Moog Factory in Asheville, North Carolina to Lisbon, Portugal. 

I love touring, but it can be a wild ride,” Barwick reflects on this cycle of constant motion. “You’re constantly adjusting, assimilating, and finding yourself in life-changing situations.” Those experiences played into and helped shape Will’s charged, unstable atmosphere: “I knew I’d be playing these songs live, so I wanted some movement,” she explains. “Something that had rhythm and low-end.”

That sense of forward propulsion is largely owed to Willsynth-heavy textures. The electric current that runs through the album takes on various shapes of intoxicating instability. Featuring contributions from Thomas Arsenault (Mas Ysa), Dutch cellist Maarten Vos and percussionist, Jamie Ingalls (Chairlift, Tanlines, Beverly), Will is largely a product of ups and downs, a reflection of a life lived somewhere in between transience and standing still. “While making this record, there were moments of isolation and dark currents,” Barwick admits. “I like exploring that, and I love when I come across songs that sound scary or ominous. I’ve always been curious about what goes into making a song that way.” The beguiling, beautifully complicated Will is the result of that curiosity, and proof of Barwick’s irresistibly engaging talent as a composer and vocalist.

Will comes off of Barwick’s busiest period in her career, following the release of Nepenthe—a spate of activity that included playing piano for Yoko Ono, performing at Carnegie Hall at the annual Tibet House concert with the Flaming Lips and Philip Glass, The Rosabi EP and beer created in conjunction with brewing company Dogfish Head, and a re-imagining of Bach’s “Adagio” from Concerto In D Minor.

Watch the Derrick Belcham-directed video for debut single, Nebula” which was filmed in the Philip Johnson Glass House and presents the essence of Will and Julianna Barwick’s richly complex musical fabric.

Julianna Barwick’s music has been reviewed in Time Out New York, Time Out Lisbon, The New York Times, and The Village Voice, among other publications. Her music has also been featured as “Best New Music” on Pitchfork, which also gave, 2009’s “Florine” EP an honorable mention for an album of the year. 

Mas Ysa

“Thomas Arsenault, the person who records as Mas Ysa, is difficult to pin down, and that’s probably the best thing about him. He’s lived in Montreal and San Francisco and Sao Paolo and New York and wherever Oberlin is. He’s scored modern dance productions and remixed synthpop groups. He sometimes sings in an angelic, reverby tenor and sometimes in a full, throat-wracked howl. He makes mostly electronic records, and he does it by itself, but “producer” somehow doesn’t seem like the right job title for him. (I’ve also seen people describe him as a “composer,” and that seems even more wrong.) Listening to his records, it’s hard to tell which sounds are electronic and which are made by actual physical instruments. His music drifts freely between ambient and synthpop and oblique dance and good old-fashioned indie rock. And he’s conclusively proven that you don’t need a full band to sound vaguely like Arcade Fire.

Mas Ysa made his name on last year’s Worth EP, which alternated between drifting, pretty synth-drone and big, chest-thumping psychedelic laptop-rock howlers. On Seraph, his first proper album, Arsenault pretty much smushes those two things together until they’re one thing, and the result is a pleasant drift that never settles on one genre for more than a few seconds and stays appealing and interesting throughout. All the individual sounds, like the glassy walls of keyboard on “Sick” or the happy-sigh New Order beeps of “Look Up,” have an impressive widescreen gloss to them. Arsenault’s voice has that quavery tone that was so popular among mid-’00s indie-dude singers, in which every word means so much that he just can’t choke it out without his throat catching. Some tracks play around with Euro-club house-thumps, which sounds shockingly good with this sort of singing and this sort of production. Nicole Miglis from Hundred Waters shows up on “Gun,” and her airy coo works as an absolutely lovely complement to Arsenault’s emotive gurgle. “Service” has some seriously badass Moroder-style Italo pulsing. There’s a lot to like here.

And maybe, for you, there will be a lot to love. Arsenault’s closest peer might be Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers, another indie auteur who pulls inspiration from wherever and whose songs seem to project meaning, even if you don’t necessarily know what that meaning is. Youth Lagoon has never really gotten past the “pleasant background music” stage for me, but that dude’s music means a lot to a lot of people. I suspect that the same will be true here. And even if you don’t end up loving this thing, it’s still an impressive piece of work, one that you should hear — if you can carve out the time. After all, there is a truly unprecedented amount of great music out there. If something is merely good, you can be forgiven for skipping it.”–Tom Breihan of Sterogum

This concert is made possible by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. About The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was established in 1987. In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, its mission is the advancement of the visual arts. The Foundation’s objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work. The Foundation values the contribution these organizations make to artists and audiences and to society as a whole by supporting, exhibiting and interpreting a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice.

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Big Car featured on The Art Assignment on PBS Digital

Big Car featured on The Art Assignment on PBS Digital

Play the game created by Jim Walker and Florian Rivière here. Be sure to share your adventures on Twitter. There’s great documentation of what people are doing on The Art Assignment’s blog.

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Make a film in 48 Hours! Registration Opening Soon

Make a film in 48 Hours! Registration Opening Soon

 

The Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project is produced by Big Car. It is open to professional, amateur and first-time filmmakers in Indianapolis. It is awesome. You should do it.

On Friday night, July 31, all registered teams meet to get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a randomly-chosen genre, all to include in your movie. [Animators and puppeteers welcome!] Then you have exactly 48 hours to make it all happen—from story to soundtrack to editing. Turn it in. High-fives. Take a long nap.

All on-time films screen to cheering audiences at the Tobias Theater at IMA the evening of Saturday, August 8. One winning team from Indianapolis will screen their film at the international Filmapalooza in Hollywood.

The sooner you sign up, the cheaper it is, and you can get started recruiting cast and crew. Prices are per team, not per person. Registration opens May 27, 2015 at 48hourfilm.com/indianapolis. Register before July 6 and pay just $140. Between July 7–July 21? $160. July 22–July 31 = $175

Join the 48 Hour Film Facebook group to keep up to date, network and share your experiences along the way!  Questions? E-mail email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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Be Gutsy: GUTZINE … call for submissions

Be Gutsy: GUTZINE … call for submissions

By email hidden; JavaScript is required, Big Car artist-in-residence

Gutzine is a new publication that will be distributed via the bathroom gallery at The Show Room, the Loo-vre, and possibly in other bathrooms near you! I look forward to seeing your ideas and please feel free to ask any questions!

DEADLINE: May 18, 2015

Want your work to be seen but have a hard time getting people to look? Put your work where people can focus, the bathroom. Big Car’s new bathroom and bathroom lobby gallery focusing on digestion, The Loo-vre, seeks a call for submissions for bathroom reading material focusing on bodily functions.

For inspiration visit the Loo-vre at The Show Room (3739 Commercial Drive) or check out some pics at the Flickr page above.

Submit in digital format to email hidden; JavaScript is required. This can include, but is not limited to poetry, photography, drawing, stories etc.

SPECS: The final product will be in standard zine format using letter paper (8.5” x 11”) folded in half, your piece can be single page or spread. Color or BW, 300 DPI, JPG, PDF, or DOC. Please submit materials with your name and the title of your piece. ex: yourname_title.jpg

Thanks!

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TEDxIndianapolis draws 1,000 people

TEDxIndianapolis draws 1,000 people

(above) Holly Combs gives a talk about letting go of labels at TEDxIndianapolis

Thanks to all the presenters, sponsors, partners, volunteers and attendees to TEDxIndianapolis 2014!  A stimulating day of Big Ideas.  Explore the photos on Flickr and Instagram, and the ongoing conversation on Facebook and Twitter.  View 21 videos of the talks and performances on YouTube here!

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Big Car 2014 in Review + Looking Ahead

Big Car 2014 in Review + Looking Ahead

by email hidden; JavaScript is required, Big Car Executive Director

This year was a busy but successful one for Big Car. It started with our three-year pop-up socially engaged arts experiment, Service Center for Culture and Community, closing after a market-rate tenant leased the space. In the middle of relocating and expanding our work to include Downtown Indianapolis, we accomplished much, including:

• Three major public events attracting 5,000 people (the TEDxIndianapolis conference at Hilbert Circle Theatre, the Art in Odd Places public art experience Downtown, and No Brakes 10-year Big Car retrospective at University of Indianapolis).

• Pop-up cultural spaces on three sides of town lacking easy and free access to cultural opportunities (Lafayette Square, Far Eastside, Near Southside) including a new sound-art gallery curated and organized by one of our artist fellows, John McCormick, a recent Herron School of Art MFA graduate.

• Three major murals in Central Indiana and nine more nationwide — all created in collaboration with community members, involving more than 2,500 people in making art, and helping beautify a variety of public spaces.

• Design work for 15 fellow nonprofits, including a virtual historic tour of the Athenaeum — and logos and other materials for Ensemble Music Society, iMOCA, White River Festival, Garfield Park Neighbors Association, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, and Youth Power Indiana.

As part of a NUVO Newsweekly cover story in September highlighting Big Car’s 10 years of working Indianapolis, writer David Hoppe called Big Car artists “impresarios of the imagination,” using our creative expertise to “benefit people where they live.” This, as always, continues to be our goal. Read the rest of Hoppe’s story here.

In 2015, the theme of the annual TEDxIndianapolis big ideas conference we lead will be “Keep it Simple.” We plan to use this as a guiding principle for our approach for 2015. One way we plan to simplify is to focus more of our programming this year on a particular neighborhood — Garfield Park just south of Fountain Square. Look for exciting details soon on a new home base we’re establishing there. A good portion of our work in the early part of 2015 will be focused on launching this location while also advocating for neighborhood-wide improvements and furthering our relationships with community partners there.

We’ll continue pop-up programming and projects in Lafayette Square and the Far Eastside, including the summer-long partnership with the Indianapolis Public Library that pairs our mobile art-experience unit — the DoSeum — with the Bookmobile, making stops at apartment complexes in very challenged areas of the city. There, Big Car artists make art with young people and share free, healthy snacks. We call this entourage Fun Fleet and we look forward to another summer of fun in these neighborhoods.

And we’ll again bring a few major citywide projects to Indianapolis in 2015. The biggest is a partnership with the City of Indianapolis to bring arts programming to Monument Circle from June to September. Funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town awarded to the City and Big Car, this work — also in partnership with Art Strategies — will include temporary, site-specific cultural programming that helps the community reimagine what can happen at the Circle.

We’ll also further expand our work to make public sculptures using salvaged honeysuckle wood removed from waterway areas around the city. We’ve created a system for volunteers to clear the invasive honeysuckle, which blocks views of our waterways and kills native species, and then repurpose it as building material for chairs, benches, arbors, and other sculptures. Our artists work with volunteers, including young people from the TeenWorks program, to design and collaboratively build the pieces, which are often placed in public areas near the waterways.

Our audience in 2015 will continue to be a blend of primarily lower-income residents who don’t have easy access to art, and an arts audience (including many local artists) that continues to support Big Car and our work. We believe connecting people who are newer to the arts with existing arts supporters and artists is crucial to expanding the arts audience in Indianapolis. And we believe involving people in making art helps them better connect with it and appreciate it.

All of the artists at Big Car see working with people to improve the quality of life as our artistic practice. It’s not a side outreach program. It’s not something we do for a living, begrudging, while we wish we were doing our art. While many of us still make other kinds of art, our work with people is integrated with this practice. And our personal passions — the issues that mean the most to us — are integrated into our approach to the work we choose as an organization.

What we strive to create at Big Car is a better world, starting with our own community and our own neighborhoods. We use the tools and the power of art to help people become more culturally and creatively inclined, happier, healthier, more active and engaged, and better connected to each other in an increasingly divided world. That’s our art, as it should be. And, ultimately, it’s everybody’s art.

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Urban creatives

Urban creatives

by Cara Courage, Thinker in Residence

I’m back in the UK now after my near-month with Big Car and although Indy is around 4000 miles away, the place and people still feel close; I talked in my first blog about the ‘magic’ of the type of art work – social practice – that Big Car does and sat here at my desk now in Brighton, UK, it appears that a magic has left its mark on me.

My role with Big Car as Thinker in Residence gave me a special licence to get involved with the team but also remain somewhat separate to it too. In this role I was neither artist nor community member, but me, a researcher with a 15-year career in the arts, that was an extra pair of hands and someone to bounce ideas off.

This place I inhabited has led me on to think of the term ‘urban creatives’. Urban creatives is a term that I am increasingly using to describe that group of people that come together in a social practice art project to make it happen. This will be artists, community members, maybe also architects, planners, engineers… The point is though that in an urban creative group whoever is in it, all work in equal regard of each other’s skills – the artist is expert at being the artist, that planner at being the planner, and, as social practice artist Jeanne van Heeswijk states, the community is expert at being the community. Each can act on their expertise and each will also learn from the interactions with others.

This is certainly my experience of Big Car and Indy. During my time there I found myself in a group with all sorts of skills and backgrounds, where each was valued for what they bring and was encouraged to act on this. At the same time, the open dialogue was set to foster learning between ourselves. So whilst I saw people given the space and permission to be who they are I also saw people change as an outcome of this gathering of skills. I saw this spread out too from the local projects that Big Car is engaged in to the wider creative and cultural fabric of Indy, spreading through the networks, conversations, and institutions that comprise that scene.

In my first blog I posited that the magic in these projects came from them being fun and social and useful and I stand by that still now. I also said that it’s down to the people involved that make them magic and that’s certainly been underlined for me with Big Car – this is a very unique set of people without doubt. But to move this a little further, my initial unpacking of my thoughts from my month with Big Car and in Indy is that it’s not just the outcomes of what Big Car does but the how of what it does that makes it special. Like any special practice art, it is the varied elements of the process coming together in their myriad ways that makes these projects magic. It values people and brings out in them potential they may not have realised they had and puts this to use, gives it a social value.

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Fun Times at Art in Odd Places

Fun Times at Art in Odd Places

Thanks to everyone who participated, sponsored and presented as part of Art in Odd Places Indianapolis.  Hundreds of people experienced surprising installations, traffic-stopping performances, and lively interactions with the 27 creative interventions presented Oct. 17-18.  Big Car Collaborative’s project–the As You Wish desk–fulfilled over 100 wishes with on-the-spot objects made from paper, clay, and more.  WISH-TV Channel 8 did a nice video piece.  Check out photos on Flickr and at IndyStar.com.

AiOP Indy was a collaboration of Big Car, Classical Music IndyArts Council of Indianapolis and Indianapolis Museum of Art, with financial support from Big Car, Delta Faucet, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indy Mod HomesDowntown IndyApparatus ITSun King, and KA+A, and promotional support from NUVO and IndyHub.

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Art In Odd Places Indy

Art In Odd Places Indy

by Cara Courage, Thinker in Residence

Art in Odd Places comes to Indy tomorrow and Saturday, two days of art installations and performances around Monument Circle and Market Street to City Market, from dawn until dusk. Ed Woodham, the AIOP founder gave a lecture on the project at IUPUI this week; one of the students asked Ed how he gauges the public’s perception of the work, and this is a pertinent question of art in the public realm – does seeing these interventions have a lasting effect on people or is that effect, like the art itself, just momentary?

Art interventions that are momentary, that have a limited temporality, I call splash interventions – they are dropped into the urban realm like a pebble in a river, make a splash and are then gone. How one measures the impact that these have on the people that see them or may interact with them is a question I have had of my research for some time.

There is a growing voice that sees splash interventions as opening up the meaning of urban space – what can happen in it and done by whom – and reimagines the city.

The temporary nature of this artform opposes fixed meanings of spatial use; this is a porous practice with a ‘loose’ unintended use of space designed to engage passers-by in a moment of play or reflection. These moments are unpredictable and transitory and open up sanctioned meanings of city space. Here, the function of splash interventions is to jolt people’s assumptions about the use of space and from this spark imagination or reflection, or both, and stimulate interest in the place around them. This enhanced or renewed connection to place for some is a process of engagement through alienation or dislocation, the disruption of the expected urban norm makes the lived experience of it active, not passive, the jarring of the arts encounter in the urban space paradoxically creating a connection to it. This will then go on to encourage human interaction in the urban realm that is again different to the norm, which creates a new collective urban experience and strengthens social bonds.

These are grand claims to make. I question how deep this practice is – does this have an impact past the moment of interaction to the next day, or longer? I also question if anything more than a moment of play, of a break from the norm during lunch hour or the walk to work, is the aim of all splash artists.

I have certainly seen splash interventions recreate the city as a space where rules are suspended, make the city become a spontaneous space that is open to a variety of uses and encourage people to express themselves in a different, less formal, way. This is something I am looking forward to seeing over the next two days with AIOP Indy.

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Space and community

Space and community

by email hidden; JavaScript is required, Thinker in Residence

I’ve now been able to see all the spaces that Big Car has. After moving from the Service Center base, Big Car can now be found at Lafayette Square, where it has its Listen Hear and Showroom spaces; at Superior supermarket on the Far East Side, in its Galeria Magnifica space; its administrative base at The Hinge in Fountain Square; and Truck Stop, its storage, meeting and gallery space. I have also seen the potential future space for Big Car, the Tube, a factory in the Garfield Park area that presents Big Car with a truly multifunctional space to house all its various activities under and from.

Big Car’s Jim Walker talks about the vision for these spaces in a video tour of them here and a map of past, current and future Big Car spaces can be found below (an image from the No Brakes Big Car exhibition at UIndy).

BC map

Each of the gallery spaces brings with it huge possibility. The spread across the city is a material realisation of Big Car’s ambition to bring art to the people and people to art, literally, across Indy, and between neighbourhoods too. It gives opportunity also for artists to respond variously to each location, to think of the space itself, its setting and the spaces in-between. All the spaces facilitate a variety of uses – from gallery, to meeting space, to rehearsal room, to workshop, to performance space…I saw Showroom operate for the first time as a live venue this week with Hourglass, a participatory dance performance.

Hourglass 07

The spaces also pose a singular challenge at this time of beginning. This challenge is about finding the community around them, getting to know them and creating a programme that will get them over the threshold of the space and keep them coming back. And get them going to events at other Big Car spaces, crossing the neighbourhood boundary. Activity at Galeria Magnifica will soon centre on just this – getting to know who shops at the store it is housed in, getting to know the local area and starting a programme that will bring people together from within the area and then with others through food and storytelling.

Galeria Magnifica 02 crop ip

I can see the role that Big Car has played on Fountain Square over its ten years and it’s told to be by nearly everyone that I have interviewed here. I have come to Big Car at a time when as it enters its second decade that it is starting anew in many respects – the offer presented by the new spaces a creative watershed. Knowing Big Car as I am getting to, the challenges it faces will be tackled with creativity and tenacity and over time, from these early days and from its wealth of experience, these challenges will transform into opportunities and into relationships, programmes and events.

I get the sense too that Indy may be in a similar position as Big Car as again I am told that Indy is undergoing something of a cultural renaissance. I can certainly sense that Indy is looking at community afresh, seeing a resurgence in community initiatives city-wide and a local design, arts and culture infrastructure that is self-supporting and generating.

For both Big Car and Indy, its shared concerns with community, the space of the city and the role of the arts in this, these are very interesting – and exciting – times.