Sunday, December 13, 2009

Suburban Still Life

Another upcoming highlight to our class will include a visit by Linda K. Johnson, a dancer and performance artist most known locally for both the work recently at South Waterfront and the ongoing series of dances that celebrate the local legacy of Anna and Lawrence Halprin and Portland fountains entitle "The City Dance of Lawrence and Anna Halprin" which is a regular annual performance in the city (more here from Portland Architecture as well).

:: City Dance - image via Portland Architecture

Back in 1999, she was involved in a curated installation related to the UGB. From the ORLO site: "Spanning Boundaries” was a series of site-specific art works, performances and a one-night symposium into the exploration of Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Growth issues are a provocative topic throughout the nation and each artist created installations along its edges. In this intriguing visual juxtaposition of site/non-site art, “Spanning Boundaries” created a broad civic dialogue about community identity, individual rights, historical antecedent and the future of Portland’s growing metropolis."

:: image via Orlo

Johnson's installation entitled 'The View From Here' included site specific performance work at Riverside/Clackamas, Bella Madrona/Sherwood, Broughton Beach/Marina Drive, Dabney State Park/Troutdale, Springwater Corridor/Powell Butte and Jackson Bottom Wetlands/Hillsboro.

A quote from the book Urban Sprawl, by Gregory Squires "The UGB has even attracted the attention of artists, surely a rarity for a land use regulation. Dancer and performance artist Linda K. Johnson set up camp for 36-hour stints at four different points on the UGB, living in a fence-like tent supplied with a TV set and Martha Stewart dishes and bedding. She quickly replaced her specialized choreography with straightforward chats with visitors, pulling opinions from yuppies, school kids, construction workers, and architects. Out of the resulting "suburban still life" came new, complex understandings of the way that the UGB has affected "every single solitary aspect of the way we livie... traffic, education, taxes, our desires and housing and architecture." For Johnson - and for many other Portlanders - the growth boundary has become "a different viewfinder to see the city through" (Gragg 1999).

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