Art Farm installation/performance

Last night I visited Art Farm Nebraska for the first time in order to see Kwangwoo Kim’s collaborative installation/performance piece. Artists Johnny Walker and Shannon Young were also part of the program.

I was a bit disappointed in the rough state of the farm. I knew it was a work in progress from their website, but for some reason thought the campus would be a little further ahead. Granted, I didn’t see all that much of the campus.

We arrived early — Google Maps’ estimated travel time was long — and stood around for 20 minutes while the artists finished up the installation and a few other onlookers arrived. No one seemed to know what was going on exactly. There was no MC. Someone said we should climb onto the platform in the barn that was still up on stilts so we did. And then they said, “No, the artists want us to start down on the ground first.”

This irked my sister-in-law who was under the impression she was going to a show in a gallery, in a pleasantly restored barn. She wore heels and her best jeans, and climbing up and down a ladder in a barn floating four feet off of the ground hadn’t factored into her evening — in part because the nature of the event had not been communicated to her. She was also almost convinced we were going to die by the hand of an axe murderer in the presence of so many “hippies” out in the countryside (To which I replied, “This is so tame compared to the backwoods of Arkansas!”). Indeed, a bath would have done some of the attendees a bit of good.

This is only worth noting in light of comments I heard at the IAM Conference in New York this past February. It was pointed out in one of the seminars that artists do well to dress and act in such a manner so as to not put off potential patrons. It’s certainly not uncommon for us to think of artists as reclusive and unwashed (to a degree). However, such a lifestyle is not beneficial for branding, especially if you hope to catch the eye of collectors with a certain high level of disposable income.

I’ve always been a fan of installations, probably on account of my interest in architecture. I’m a little more apprehensive when it comes to performance art, but Kim’s work was worth the trek east to the farm. I liked the Asian sensibility of the performance and it’s contrast to the setting of the Great Plains. My brother picked that up as well, likening the performer’s motion and accompanying music to a Japanese horror flick (which I can’t verify since I don’t watch horror).

Some sort of official direction by a person in the know would have added value to the experience, so that the 25 or so of us viewers weren’t milling around so aimlessly in our ignorance. It could have been as little as three sentences describing the evening. As it was, we could hardly tell who the artists were and ended up with absolutely no idea of who was in charge of the farm, something I would have liked to learn.

Regardless, I’ll probably go back for the farm’s harvest weekend near the end of October.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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