The 2018 Northern Spark all-night free art festival

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photo courtesy of Northern Spark

Prepare for an all-nighter. Break out the energy drinks and treat yourself to an extra cup of coffee so you can fully take in all the events and incredible artwork during the two-night 2018 Northern Spark festival.

For the unfamiliar, the Northern Spark festival is a free all-night art festival that draws in tens of thousands of Minnesotans to gather in downtown Minneapolis each year. The festival aims to bring Minnesotans together no matter your ethnicity, background, or gender. You can join the late night crowds to explore artwork in the streets of Minneapolis and watch giant video projections, play in temporary installations, enjoy experimental performances, and eat tons of delicious food.

In a new move this year, instead of one evening, the festival will take place over two nights on Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16. With the festival activities spread out over two nights, this will not only help with any potential summer thunderstorms, but will allow you to thoroughly explore all the festival has to offer.

The festivities will commence at sunset beginning around 9:02pm and running through 2am. This festival gives you the perfect excuse to explore the magic of the city at night as all events and art installations will take place in three locations: The Commons, Minneapolis Central Library, and on Nicollet between 4th and 8th streets. And this year the Northern Spark theme addresses an important and prevalent topic in today’s climate: Commonality.

The festival’s theme of Commonality begs the questions: “What do we all have in common?” and “What brings us together?” Exploring these questions can be difficult and uncomfortable especially in the midst of a time when many feel alone, alienated, or discriminated against.

But the festival hopes to spark a conversation inviting both the artists and visitors to contemplate our current culture by asking the questions, Is it possible to share common ideals and goals while acknowledging significant differences in heritage, lifestyle, income and interest? What do we have in common in a city with significant racial disparities in employment, education and other markers of well-being? Can there ever be common ground on land that was colonized? And what do these questions mean for Downtown Minneapolis — one neighborhood in the midst of many in our metropolis?” – Northern Spark website.

The Northern Spark festival provides a space to explore these ideas with “platforms that resist discriminatory ideas, open dialogue and create relationships.”

So what will you find at this year’s festival?

With the theme of Commonality and finding connection in a disparate culture, you will be able to take in and experience some incredible installations and artwork. Here are a few you should definitely check out.

Artists Peng Wu, Shunjie Yong, Aki Shibata, Preston Drum, Zoe Cinel present Carry On Homes: The 2018 Creative City Challenge winner, Carry On Homes is a multi-functional pavilion at The Commons hosting the stories of immigrants in Minnesota, where individuals come together to explore the concept of home. This interactive sculptural installation reimagines the home as an open structure. Walls disappear, while invitations to engage appear in the multiple forms of a stage, a colorful mural, a reflecting garden, a photo gallery and a sculpture built from repurposed suitcases.

Artists Danielle Everine & David Heisserer present Meme Weaver: Part mechanized tool and part arcade game, Meme Weaver is an interactive machine that weaves poems. The loom explores human-machine collaboration by employing volunteers to carry out the integrated computer plan. The loom weaves a collection of memes, poems, quotes, and maxims that encourage sharing of knowledge.

Artist Laura Brown’s The Empathy Economy: An ongoing project examining systems of exchange, questioning our notions of value, inclusion, wealth, and generosity. Empathy Mutual operates on the values of human connection and persistent optimism, and has the power to transformation systems of inequity through personal interaction and small acts of kindness.

Artist Tiffany Carbonneau’s Something Worth Remembering: An architectural video projection that will illuminate the City Center facade along Nicollet Mall overlaying historic photographs, found film, and animated data celebrating the significant cultural and economic impact of immigration in Minnesota and the United States.

The Night Library with contributing artists Rhiana Yazzie, Tony Biele, and Jon ColeWhat happens to stories that are untold? To characters that are unwritten? Explore the dark stacks of The Night Library to unlock hidden narratives and bring untold stories to life. Hennepin County Library staff and artists explore the role of information and the library in society through an interactive collaborative narrative with puzzles, games, humor, and light.

Artist Chango Cummings presents Through the Glass Eyes: Dissects systems of extreme government surveillance in the community of North Minneapolis and beyond. This multifaceted performance, sculpture, and mural debunks systemic stigmas by projecting the true narratives of Black community.

Kashimana Ahua presents The Applause Posse: A genuine compliment can boost energy, mood, and self-esteem for several days. What could a shower of compliments do? The Applause Posse, a performing duo using voice, guitar, and other portable instruments for the sole purpose of showering people with musical compliments on Nicollet Mall.

These artists and events are simply a glimpse of the talent and happenings during the two-night festival.

Check out the festival’s website for more details on how to plan out your night and to also download a free Metro Transit pass for buses and the metro lines making it easy for you to get around the festival.

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