MST6 – Day 3 (19th October 2012)

The day began with an performance devised by Gulgun Kayim. Taking her theme of Terror Towns, she maps a performance of “Our Town” on the virtual landscape of a small town depopulated by the armed forces and used for terrorist training. The actors gave a compelling performance as they discussed the daily milking whilst they manouevre model tanks, planes and soldiers to their ultimate destruction.


After lunch, we reconvened to Rapson Hall for a series of panels presenting and discussing the themes of shadows traces undercurrents.


The keynote by Iain Biggs and Mary Modeen also featured a ‘Greek chorus’ of visitors from the British Isles who helped illustrate the themes that Mapping Spectral Traces encompass. Amongst the other speakers, Victoria Walters (UWE Bristol) examined the nature of Joseph Beuys’ 7000 Oaks project and Judy Tucker and Harriet Tarlo gave us an insight into the nature of artistic collaboration as they talked of the processes involved in their joint project.


Following the panels, and a short hop into the foyer of Rapson Hall, we enjoyed the official book launches of “Joseph Beuys and the Celtic Wor(l)d” by Victoria Walters, “Between Ineffable Intervals” edited by Mel Shearsmith and the joint publication “Quantock Dreaming/Weatherproof” by Iain Biggs and Antony Lyons. (Further details can be found at the PLaCE website, 


Public events were brought to a close by the opening of the Sense of Place artists’ books exhibition curated by Karen Kinoshita at the Architecture and Landscape Library Gallery (Minneapolis). With wide ranging styles and subject matter, the exhibition included works from local artists, Mapping Spectral Traces members, and members of UWE, Bristol. The exhibition runs until the 12th January 2013.

David Smith


MST6 – Day 2 (18th October 2012)

As part of the conference, Mona Smith had arranged a trip for delegates to Fort Snelling State Park. This was an intensely powerful journey as the site was both the birthplace of the Dakota and 150 years ago formed the concentration camp that contained Dakota women and children following the Dakota War of 1862. As part of the visit park manager, Larry Peterson and lead naturalist, Krista Jensen gave their perspective on looking after a site that is both emotionally and historically important to the Dakota people.


DIane Wilson spoke about the Dream of Wild Health project that offers summer camps during which young adults learn to grow, harvest and cook.


We then moved outside to the memorial that marks the site of the concentration camp. At various places around the woodland where the camp once stood, circles of markers stand. The markers were planted by those who from 2002 have retraced the steps of those Dakota people who were forced marched to the Snelling camp during the cold November of 1862.


As visitors to the site, we were extremely privileged to take part in a Dakota cleansing ceremony officiated by Jim Anderson. He spoke movingly of the history of the Dakota, their connection to the land in which they lived, the pain and horror following the events of 1862 and its present-day aftermath. The lasting impression for me was the quiet dignity and humility that marked Jim’s acknowledgment of our connection with, and our duty of care towards the environment.


Following the ceremony and some time spent at the memorials several alumni from the project provided a delicious menu made with produce from the Dream of Wild Health farm for the lunch at the Snelling visitor’s centre before we headed back to the Katherine E Nash gallery for the afternoon’s events.


The afternoon began with Mapping Spectral Traces member Talya Chalef, and her collaborator, Kelly Ryall (via Skype), outlining the plans for her latest location-based project. Opening the discussion up the audience elicited many interesting comments about the nascent project and its location.


Next poet Harriet Tarlo read a selection of poems that grown out of her collaboration with artist Judith Tucker, whose joint works formed part of the exhibition that the Katherine E Nash gallery.


The opening of the shadows traces undercurrents exhibition rounded off the evening. An eclectic mix of works from MST members and invited artists provided a wonderful encapsulation of the philosophy of Mapping Spectral Traces.

David Smith


MST6 – Day 1 (17th October 2012)


Although not on the official timetable for MST 6 several members visited the Bockley Gallery, in Kenwood, to view Julie Buffalohead’s exhibition of her latest works. Further details of Julie Buffalohead’s work can be seen at the Bockley Gallery website (


After a visit to the local bookshop which, like the Bockley, champions the work of local Native American artists and writers we headed to the Katherine E Nash Gallery, where visiting members of Mapping Spectral Traces presented their work to the students of Christine Beaumler and Joyce Lyon. The descriptions of the processes and practices of Gini Lee, Mary Modeen, Iain Biggs and Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo prompted some lively questioning from the assembled audience.


The evening session was an event organised by Dakota artists, Mona Smith. She had arranged a tour of the Mill City Museum and the surrounding area. Our guide for the first part of the evening was Pat Nunnally, (coordinator for the Institute on the Environment’s River Life program). We meandered down to the riverside while Pat pointed out features and landmarks of Minnesota’s turbulent history. The tour also took in a visit to the Guthrie Theater that lies opposite the Mill City Museum, including a journey up to its incredible cantilevered extension, that afforded a magnificent, albeit with a slightly surreal, view of the riverfront through its yellowed glass. There was added poignancy to the visit as we looked down on a recreation of a Dakota burial mound, that was built on the site where once the original mounds were systematically destroyed to make way for the industries that took over the river.


The evening continued with a special performance of Cloudy Waters, Mona Smith’s multimedia piece, consisting of interviews and location recordings that offers moving reflections of the Mississippi River from the perspective of Dakota people. It was wonderful to hear the whole of cloudy waters in situ. The ruins of the mill, itself a symbol of colonial power, were a setting full of power. Cloudy Waters can be heard in the courtyard of the Museum.


Following this, Dakota educator, astronomer and physicist Jim Rock offered an overture to his talk that explored Dakota cosmology with a cleansing ceremony and some audience participation. 


We moved indoors for a delicious evening meal of traditional Dakota fare, following which we were enthralled by part two of Jim Rock’s presentation of Dakota cosmology and history with a compelling narrative and stunning graphical representations of the universe and our place in it. 


David Smith


MST6 – A personal log (16th October 2012)

The day began by taking another walk down to the river. Taking a different direction, I eventually reached the river on a gloriously warm Autumn morning. Rebecca kindly took me to see the Walker art gallery, but as the day was so pleasant I spent most of the time outside in their wonderful sculpture park. It is an eclectic mix of styles and eras, with its centrepiece, the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry (Claes Oldenburg??and??Coosje van Bruggen) standing out. Crossing a road bridge I entered Loring Park, which afforded an alternate view of the imposing Minneapolis skyline.

Something that stands out for me in my memories of the Twin Cities is the rich variety of architecture. Colonial structures stand side by side with building of breathtaking modernity. I was particularly struck by the facets of the Walker, which, so Rebecca informs me, was based on the texture of cracked ice.

David Smith


MST6 – A personal log (14th October 2012)

Mapping Spectral Traces 6: shadows traces undercurrents was set to take place from the 16th of October in the Twin Cities. As I hadn’t been to the States for 20 years, and had never been to Minneapolis/St Paul, I wanted to make the most of my time and arrived a few days early.


On the first morning I took a walk from the hotel down to the Mississippi River. The short walk was marked by the light railway works that were taking place, although as it was a Sunday, there was no work that day. Intriguing sculptures lined the roadway and the walk marked my first encounter with the Weisman Art Museum, unmistakably the work of Frank Gehry.


The Washington Avenue Bridge that leads into downtown Minneapolis is a two tier construction, that contains a pedestrian/cycle way at the top level (including a covered walkway to make walking in inclement weather less of an ordeal), the nascent light railway and roadway at the lower level.


The covered walkway itself contains a fascinating snapshot of University social life, as hand-painted panel after hand-painted panel advertise the various groups that meet around the sizeable campus. The scope of the groups is massive. Israeli and Palestinian associations sit close to each other along the walkway. Invitations to a wide range of spiritual, social, educational and sports  groups beckon. To make me feel at home, the familiar image of Dr Who’s TARDIS skittering through time entreats me to join the  Gallifreyan-Human Alliance. At one end of the bridge the shoe tree marked the end of university study for graduating students (or so I’ve heard).


Just the other side of the river I sat in the park that marks the area of Bohemian Flats. Some information points hint at the rich history that lies beneath my feet, and marked my first encounter with the spectral traces that permeate throughout the area. A lot more for me to explore, but for now, it made a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.


In the afternoon I joined up with Rebecca Krinke and took a trip to the MCAD Gallery to see the Tamarack Bog built by a team headed by MST member Christine Baeumler. Having seen images and a fascinating video I jumped at the chance to see it person. Beautifully realised and engineered, the piece is a self sustaining, living, breathing bog that sits atop the entrance of the museum. The piece has obviously had a positive impact on the visitors and staff there. Quite unsolicited, a security guard told us of all the positive comments the bog had received and how he as looking forward to the tamarack trees changing into their distinctive yellow autumn colours – something I was sorry that I was going to miss.

David Smith