September 8, 2012

Utopian Wendover with artist Nils Norman

September 3 - 8, 2012
British artist and educator, Nils Norman, is in Wendover, Utah this week, leading a Utopian-Wendover workshop with Land Arts of the American West. Nils starts things off by talking about his research methodology and specific projects he has been working on, including: playgrounds, the disappearing commons in urban centers, and collaborative, public art/design/permaculture projects.

Nils Norman gives several presentations about his research and public projects.
This year, Land Arts of the American West, will engage in a week long collaborative project in the Dual-State city of Wendover, envisioning a process of utopian potential. We begin our investigation of these two cities, situated along the Utah/Nevada state line, by taking a walking tour among the casinos, which are economic machines propping up these two places. It is Labor Day Monday and the slots are slammed.

Land Arts students walk from casino to casino to explore these tourist attractions.

Analyzing bling and the sensory indexes of Casino Utopia.
On day two, students divide into groups and spread out across the two Wendovers to explore neighborhoods, public infrustructure, and eco-niches. Each groups' encounters are recorded in photographs, drawings, sound recordings, and stories, shared with the entire Land Arts crew at the end of the day. 

Marne Elmore, Lea Andersson, and Nils Norman explore desire lines: creative paths transversing the cities.
Overview of casinos marking the Nevada State Line.
Students found many small gardens throughout Wendover, Utah.
Recreation facilities in West Wendover, Nevada
Student research images from a day walking around the two Wendovers.
On the next day we arrange meetings with Mike Crawford, mayor of Wendover, Utah, and Chris Melville, City Manager of West Wendover, Nevada. They each present visions of their respective Wendovers and discuss the relationship between the two cities. We meet with Mike in the parking lot outside Tooele County, Utah, office building, and then Chris in the new City Hall of West Wendover, Nevada.

Mike Crawford, mayor of Wendover, Utah, talks to the Land Arts crew.
Chris Melville presents the West Wendover, Nevada, city plan for the future.
Thursday is dedicated to developing and honing the focus of several identified projects: Desire Lines, a Utopian Toolkit, and a Community Performance/Market Place. In the evening each group reports on their topic and gets feedback from Nils and the other groups, as we prepare for a day of production on Friday.

Constructing the marketplace/pavilion model. (Above)
Organizing the Utopian Toolkit (Above)
Desire Line production process. (Above)
On Saturday morning groups presented their Utopian-Wendover projects to Nils and the whole group. We spent the entire morning walking, talking, and sharing ideas about each of the three projects. As initial sketches and proposals, completed in a time crunch of four days, these projects are initial steps towards larger and more long term public art projects, directed towards specific communities who call Wendover home.

These three projects were:
Desire Lines of Wendover - concieved by Eric Cook, Eso Robinson, and Heika Qualitz
Utopian Toolkit  - conceived by Katelyn DeLuca, Marne Elmore, Lea Andersson, and Amelia Zaraftis
MarketPlace/Pavilion - conceived by Jeff Nibert, Emily Vosburgh, Cecilia McKinnon, and KB Jones

Desire Lines of Wendover, group discussion.
Desire Line of Wendover, concept board, with complete details about desire lines around both Wendovers and a rejuvenation project located along one of these desire lines.
Desire Line of Wendover, concept board, detail.
Presentation of Utopian Toolkit
Utopian Toolkit pamphlet
Utopian Toolkit, with cameras, postcards, pamphlets, journal, and mailer to be used by locals to identify problems and creatively rethink solutions through exhibitions and workshops.
Presentation of Market place/pavilion, a model which was presented on site in an abandoned county lot. This project envisions a new kind of community social space through using reclaimed materials from the Wendover Air Base to create a local performance and market place.
Market place/pavilion, detail
Market place/pavilion, detail
Market place/pavilion, detail
Many thanks to Nils Norman for leading Land Arts of the American West students through a week of research, collaboration and creation!

-jeanette hart-mann and bill gilbert

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