Beginning at sundown, I will travel through the night carrying a lantern on a harness, with my face concealed by a scarf to remain anonymous. I will begin in Powderhorn and attempt to pass all of the project sites in Northern Spark. After walking for several hours, I will arrive at the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Main, where my raft will be tethered. The raft is composed of found lumber and debris, and has a bed. I will climb onto the raft, hang my lantern above the bed, lie down, and close my eyes to go to sleep. As I rest, several friends will convey me down the river, past the busiest festival zone,through the locks, and beyond.
During my long walk, I will be able to connect with fellow participants of the night festival. Usually I will be relatively solitary, which may cause passersby to wonder about the masked person walking alone with a lamp mounted to her shoulders. They may not recognize I am a performance artist and will not know for certain if I am eccentric. This ambiguity allows viewers to react sincerely rather than with a conditioned response to art, as in a gallery. Unless I am obviously interacting with an art project, I am just a person walking at night.
When I reach the raft, I will be close to the epicenter of Northern Spark, with the relative safety and solitude of my raft at the other side of the crowds. On my raft, I will escape the public sphere and enter a quiet, intimate place. I will travel over river locks on an exposed bed with hundreds of potential viewers, trusting in my companions to direct and guide me. The river ride is my presumed “safe place,” but I will actually be much more exposed on my raft; my walking portion will be my “exposed” time, though here I will enjoy more anonymity. I intend to address the guarded feelings we experience when exposed to the outside world contrasted with our far less guarded feelings when we are alone and sheltered. These feelings may overlap: solitude can be achieved in a crowd, and fear can occur when we are safe and alone.
Leslie Kelman is an installation and performance artist who creates work about space, shelter, and labor. She works full time at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design as a shop technician and part time as an instructor.