Reflecting on the work and art of the past three years
Please note: This blog post includes many of the traumas of the past three years. Please read with care.
December 31st, 2019
The World Health Organization country office in China reports several cases of pneumonia of “unknown etiology”. Symptoms include shortness of breath and a fever. Meanwhile millions around the globe are innocently, obviously staring down the barrel of a new decade with 20/20 vision. There’s hope in the air, it’s almost electric. Another World Is Possible. The words rang like a gong, heavy and attention grabbing, metallic on the tongue that dared to speak it. Another World Is Possible. Things were changing, and at Pangea, with our production of Sueño about to begin, we were eager to see where we would go next.
March 11th, 2020
Temperatures were in the low to mid 50s in the Twin Cities, clouds rolled a pale gray across the sky turning greens greener, vivid. After four thousand–two hundred–ninety one deaths worldwide, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Pan– a prefix inferring the encompassment of all. Taken, originally, from Greek loanwords; Panacea, Panoply — Pangea. The “gea” is a shortening of Gaia or Gaea, known by most as the great Mother Earth, the embodiment of our world. Yet, also known as the land, the earth itself, the Gaia. By a literal definition, that would mean that Pangea is another way to say “All Mothers”, or “All Land”.
Demic– a suffix, naturally, of Greek origin meaning “people”. Academic, syndemic, epidemic.
Pandemic. “All People”, as in “All people are not safe. All people will not be able to escape the shadow of this virus. It will come into your homes, take your family, your pets, your friends, and it will follow you. All of you.”
Pangea. “All mothers.” By now, we could have all used a mother. To help us get through whatever this is this-this fear, to help carry the weight on our chests as we held our breath close to our bodies, careful. But many of us didn’t have our mothers. More of us didn’t know when we’d be able to see our mothers again, our voices trembling as we coughed out the “if”. “If” there would be a return to a normal, “If” this would all blow over, “If” the world would recover.
Those questions soon turned to “If” there would be room at the hospital for us, “If” there would be a machine available to breathe for us, until we could breathe on our own again. The “if” we would ever be able to breathe on our own again. “If” we’d ever see our mothers again.
March 13th, 2020
A woman is asleep in her bed when a hurricane of horror blows into her home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Seven to One: one moment, one one second, one woman. Gone, taken in her own home.
Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor.
But we won’t learn her name and story for months to come .
March 15th, 2020
“So much has changed so fast already, friends, and much will perhaps never be the same. “
As we all begin to settle in for “two weeks”, the lines of dreams and reality have already begun to blur. The word “unprecedented” has entered everyone’s daily vocabulary.
There was a show underway, one that spoke of kings and destiny and … isolation. Something we’d only begun to share with our community. Nonetheless, the show felt important, it was important. “Our production of Sueño was cut short by one week in order to keep all of our ensemble and community members safe and healthy. All ensemble and crew were still paid until the end of the run of the show.”
March 16th, 2020
We sit in the office, and the mood is admittedly somber. We are separated out from one another, filling the ever-present space between each body with longing looks.
Staff meeting. So much to do, and no clear future to go with it. Everything is blurry; the whiplash of one day being able to reach out and touch our fellow ensemble members, hold them close if they need it, and the next day hearing that one touch, one breath, and it may be the last time you ever see that person— that friend again.
Uncertainty is palpable, but not frightening.
We are familiar with uncertainty, and as such we know that whatever comes next, we’ll be ready for it.
Well, maybe not “ready”. But regardless, we shall continue onwards. Wherever it leads.
March 26, 2020
We started the Call & Response blog as billions of people worldwide were confined to their houses and turning inward towards reading, reflection (and binge streaming/listening) for sustenance. We presented an eclectic selection of (mostly reading) materials to inspire, inform, entertain, and hopefully generate meaningful dialogue with those around you and those at a distance. To date, publishing ten interviews and profiles, thirty reading lists, and two original essays.
People are worried we may never see what we’d come to know as “normal” ever again. Some were already mourning, and rightfully so. It hurts. We all can feel that.
“We hope that you and yours are safe and healthy… We see you, and we love you.”
But you see, change has never scared Pangea.
“This is cause for despair and mourning, yes…”
Though we have never experienced change on such a level before— Our goal, our mission, remains the same.
“... But [it is] also cause for reflection, for hope and for imagination and action.”
We are here. We are here to hold you, support you, and get through this with you. We are here to grow with you.
“Let us harness that in the months ahead and let us journey together on this difficult road towards a better future for all.”
May 25th, 2020
Do you remember where you were? Were you with your family? Did you have Covid? Were you listening to the news?
We remember. We remember it all.
What do you think it’s like to die over 20 dollars? A Jackson can’t get you very much these days. Maybe a halfway-decent meal from a halfway-decent restaurant. A nice book, a couple of groceries.
His body hits the ground. Passersby grab their phones, unaware of the consequences, repercussions, of immortalizing these next eight minutes, forty-six seconds on their tiny screens.
Now seven, George is trying to explain but the words are hard to get out when someone’s knee is on your throat. “I can’t believe this”.
Six minutes– George is getting desperate, flailing for some sort of motion that would somehow get through to these people, these people, that there is no need for what’s happening. “Please man.” His neck hurts, his stomach hurts, everything hurts. Though air is hard to come by now, he manages to call out to his mother.
His mother. His mom.
Who knew that after forty-four years, the desperation for one’s mother when you’re scared– terrified, dying— is just as poignant as it was when you scraped your knee in kindergarten.
Five minutes now. If Chauvin gets up now, George might be lucky enough to not have brain damage. But no, “You’re killing me, man.”
Four. “Tell my kids I love them.”
Two. “I can’t breathe.”
We remember what happened next. Do you?
May 26th, 2020
They shut down the city. Adults and youth alike subjected to curfew like naughty children, forced back into their homes as chaos took their front yard, back yard, their own front steps. Chaos erupts at a Target of all places, looting and destruction make the hollow corporate shell crack, and out spews eons of sweet revenge. Newscasters swarm like flies, licking every piece of it up.
“We stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, with the Black Lives Matter movement and with all the protesters calling for long overdue systemic change.”
While our minds may join them, playing the role of witness, it was not where our hearts are. Our hearts were with you, our community, who share our roll as a witness.
We witnessed tragedy unfold at its deepest mark, yes, but we also saw nurses and doctors doing everything they could to save life after life. Frontline workers making sure everyone has what they need. Fellow protesters brought food, milk, water, supplies to those who dared stare down injustice.
There was hope in the air, we could feel it.
May 28th, 2020
The fires take Franklin Street. Our sister organization Ghandi Mahal takes the impact head on.
“Let my building burn”.
They don’t ask who started the looting, or the “riots”. They don’t show how peaceful each protest started, only the swat teams marching in to throw poison at innocent people.
Who do they protect?
Do you think they said his name?
"At this time, when it feels impossible to simply go back to work, we ask the artists in our ensemble to respond to this time, this space, this moment. Going back to business as usual is not possible. We are charging the artist/activists we work with everyday to document this moment in history, this potent moment charged with resistance. Through plays, song, visual arts – we create an equitable and just space from burnt ashes, debris and shattered glass! We rise and proclaim – Yes, another world is possible and it's time is NOW!" Meena Natarajan and Dipankar Mukherjee Artistic Directors
Another World is Possible: Pangea Artists Envision
Suzanne Victoria Cross presented Open Water Project: Words Aren't Enough.
A Zoom and Facebook presentation
Words aren't enough to address the violent act of covert racism that is concealed in the fabric of our society. It lives in the body. In an attempt to heal, Suzanne invited the community to go on an artistic exploration in how many different art forms can express what goes through the mind and body when our language and security are ripped away.
Lake Street Arts! Lake Street Story Circle
Miré Regulus presented And on the Other Side is … grief, transformation, resisting immobility, and release
This moment is an interrogation of the worn-out litany "It happened, it's finished – get over it." The breaking and the weeping, the marching and the destruction, the organizing and the advocacy, the anger and the fire tells us that that dismissive litany no longer stands. Oya, the orisa of death and rebirth, of transformation is speaking – she says, "You can't go around me on this one." In her continued community conversations with artists, politicians, community activists, and cultural workers who are working the transformations/outcomes of the once and future Lake Street through July.
Rebecca Nichloson led the Zoom workshop Minneapolis: An Awakening, A Reckoning, A Search for Breath
Nichloson shared her poem Minneapolis: An Awakening, A Reckoning, A Search for Breath and discussed its underlying themes. Workshop participants are asked to respond to writing prompts and exercises and are encouraged to continue developing their pieces after the workshop.
Juma B. Essie in conversation Blackness is Nature
Lake Street in Minneapolis is punctuated by bodies of water: the Mississippi River to the east and Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska to the west. Between these undeniable natural parenthesis lies paragraphs of urbanity. Often as a Black man who fishes, hikes, and camps I feel like a walking paradox. The assumptions of who I am butt up against the reality of what I am doing. Just being, thinking, quiet. In five one-on-one conversations with other Black people about their relationship with and in nature, Essie asks, “What is the experience of being Black in nature in the Twin Cities? How is it shaped and informed by the parenthesis and paragraphs of Lake Street?”
Johanna Keller Flores, Baki Z Porter, and Ellis Pérez created Tenemos la responsabilidad to hold one another
Centering queer Black and brown artists, Flores, Porter, and Pérez questioned the role of art and joy in times of confusion, grief, guilt, rage? Como se puede hacer amigxs? Cómo podemos mostrar solidaridad verdadera con el arte hoy? Hoy digo, hoy. Quiero que todxs que me conozcan sepan que juntos tenemos la responsabilidad to hold each other. To center Black and indigenous voices. Pa enfocar en las voces Negras e indígenas. To celebrate one another.
Mollie Lacy presented Redefining Power
COVID-safe gathering in Powderhorn Park
Our community is more powerful than we could have ever imagined.
With calls for defunding the police and abolishing prison, this Story Circle invited the community to reconceptualize what power means to us. How to hold onto it — grow it and share it. How to be adaptable to the moment and committed to Black liberation and the collective liberation for all.
Sandra Agustin created Corner Conversations: Make a Wish for Lake Street
Throughout the summer, on various corners on Lake Street, Sandra invited passersby to join her in conversation around their wishes for Lake Street. What do you wish for Lake Street? In an effort to understand and share who lives along the corridor, how long they have lived there, what they see, what they want, and to build a sense of curiosity about and give hope to what will rise from the ashes.
Masanari Kawahara and Molly Van Avery envisioned Make a Sanctuary of Me
Visual artist Masnari Kawahara and writer Molly Van Avery held their story circle in the Powderhorn Park sanctuary. During the summer, hundreds of people experiencing homelessness lived in tents in the park directly following the uprisings that resulted from the death of George Floyd and the historic legacy of police brutality. People were moved into the park after being evicted from a hotel on Lake Street that had been taken over and named a sanctuary. The artists spoke with people living in the park prior to their forced removal. Kawahara drew portraits with sumi-ink while Van Avery wrote them a poem based on their conversations.
Sequoia Hauck presented Collective Healing: Taking Time to Recharge
What are the ways we can recharge in times like these? How can collective healing and storytelling bring us closer? In what ways do anger, rage, sorrow, and grief all play into self healing? And how does our connection to the land contribute to our collective strength? In this BIPOC-only story circle, folks virtually gathered together to share stories of resiliency. Sequoia facilitated a mindfulness activity to strengthen our connection with the land and ourselves.
Aegor Ray presented future/crowns
A COVID-safe gathering at Plaza Centenario
Lake Street is the beating heart of Minneapolis — and now the epicenter of the global movement to abolish the police. Black liberation, queer/trans liberation and the end of carceral white supremacist capitalism are the roots that will grow a just and joyous future world. Aegor invited community visions for change in our community 25, 200, 3000 years from now. Offerings were given to the public: small houseplants and jarred mixtures of epsom salts and essential oils to encourage rootedness in our present moment, both brief and expansive.
August 7, 2020
Webinar: Politically Engaged Art Amid Multiple Pandemics
In collaboration with Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle and Mizna
The first of a virtual talk series that grappled with the political tensions emerging at the intersections of multiple pandemics — COVID-19, anti-Black racism, casteism, and anti-Muslim violence — as well as the revolutionary possibilities and deep challenges that the present moment revealed to us.
August 8th, 2020
Katia Cardenas presented The Burning Truth Project, COVID-safe performances in Meena and Dipankar’s backyard.
Through song and story, Katia and collaborators Andrina Brogden and Sarah M. Greer shared their Burning Truths — the feeling of the boat going to the bottom, the sinking feeling of existence within a society that lets injustices go unanswered, the frustration. As another installment of Another World is Possible: Pangea Artists Envision, They stoked the flames of a brilliant passion into a roaring display of heart and soul.
August 12th, 2020
Our Jenny Zander presented Rising from Concrete: Voice, Movement & Color along Lake Street, a COVID-safe performance at Moon Palace Books, as another installment of Another World is Possible: Pangea Artists Envision.
What does it mean to rebuild, redistribute and ultimately grow amid civil & societal unrest?
Concrete creates a barrier between us and the land. But plants will always push through the cracks. Through voice, movement and color dancers cascaded, took root and then rose again from the pavement.
September 4, 2020
Webinar: Politically Engaged Art Amid Pandemic and Protest
In collaboration with Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change - ICGC of the University of Minnesota, Mizna, AGITATE!, and Parakh Minnesota.
October 8, 2020
National Institute for Directing & Ensemble Creation presented Black Directors Roundtable, in collaboration with Art2Action.
Featuring: Sharon Bridgforth, Lou Bellamy of Penumbra, Stephanie McKee of Junebug Productions, and Steven Sapp of UNIVERSES. Moderated by Linda Parris-Bailey.
October 10th, 2020
Adlyn Carreras presented Mothers Respond: Songs and Poetry for George Floyd, a COVID-safe gathering in Powderhorn Park.
Pangea. “All mothers.”
We all heard it. The way George called for his mother. But she couldn’t go to him. His words were still ringing in the cosmos, and Adlyn Carreras, as a mother, could not leave his pleas unanswered. In contribution to Another World is Possible: Pangea Artists Envision, Adlyn gathered mothers of all different walks of life. Through drumming, song, and poetry sent their love, comfort, pain-soothing coos of adoration and strength to his spirit, and to all of those without their mothers to protect them.
October 11, 2020
Raising the Tree of Peace, Tree of Life, Tree for the Future
Supporting Indigenous Peoples Task Force, and Sharon Day.
Many people responded to Sharon Day’s invitation to send their messages to future generations. From a place of deep love, the purest truth, and with hope, people created leaves with their messages to be part of the Tree of Peace, Tree of Life, Tree for the Future. People from all over Turtle Island contributed to this large-scale sculpture.
We raised the tree at the Minnesota State Capitol with the wish that our leaders enact policies that reflect our prayers that everyone be able to live a good life.
October 16th and 17th, 2020
We have a virtual performance of Lake Street Arts! Lake Street Story Circle.
Ten artists came together to hold Story Circles throughout the summer and created new performance work about life, spirit, resistance, power, politics, vision, relationships, history, healing, business, home, time, nature, weeds, wants, needs, survival and joy.
Grounded on Lake Street, grounded in Minneapolis, grounded in story, in place and each other.
November 1st, 2020
Keila Anali Saucedo shared Sobre Los Muertos Las Coronas, a COVID-safe art installation, as a part of Another World is Possible: Pangea Artists Envision.
Parked between Moon Palace Books and The Hub Bike Co-op dwelt a canary yellow van. Within these metal confines was an art altar created by Eric Gonzalez, Kieran Myles-Andrès Tverbakk, C. Michael, Noah Lawrence-Holder and more. Two tables hugged the sides of the van. In contrast to the bite of November, tapestries of red, orange and brown adorn the walls like a warm fire for one’s eyes. The sound of running water and breathing filled the space with the essence of life. Gazing around the van, your eyes found dear friends, family, and other loved ones lost during this turbulent time.
November 11, 2020
Reimagining Education Through Arts & Social Justice
Addressing the Impacts of the Pandemic & Uprisings on Teachers & Students.
We began to Reimagine Education through arts and social justice in the first of six virtual panel discussions. The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted many of us in different ways. For students and teachers especially, it has required reimagining education, during this pandemic and beyond.
November 20th-22nd, 2020
National Institute for Directing & Ensemble Creation’s VIRTUAL Weekend! in collaboration with Art2Action.
So much moved online — including, the National Institute of Directing and Ensemble Creation, NIDEC. We gathered together in this digital space, instead of physical space, to share ancient and personal knowledge and be nurtured amongst peers.
December 7, 2020
Emily Meenan presented Another World is Possible: Virtual Zine Launch, an online poetry reading
This celebration and reading of excerpts from the Another World is Possible zine. Thank you to the poets Miranda Strong, Rebecca Nichloson, Juwaria Jama, Se'Anna, Winfrey Oenga, Mo Holmes, Ashley Mari and to Noah Lawrence-Holder for the cover art.
December 9, 2020
Reimagining Education Through Arts & Social Justice
Focus on Families.