Artists speak out on homelessness

If language is indeed a loaded weapon, as Jean-Paul Sartre put it, then local spoken word performers are armed and dangerous -- not to other people, but to complacency, fear, and in this case, homelessness.

Sunday marked the third in a series of four performances where artists presented statements, personal and political, about being forced from home. A diverse array of voices took the mic. The rapid-fire stylings of Verse gave way to the jazzy feel of e.g. bailey's band-backed poetics. The incendiary lyrics of El Guante found their counterpoint in the charms of a traditional African story told by "Auntie Beverly" Cottman. All had been touched in some way by homelessness, seen it affect family or friends; some had experienced indigence firsthand.


"Auntie Beverly" Cottman finishes her story to applause. See the photo gallery from the event.


Kate Searls, one of the event's organizers, said the project's goals are "to increase community awareness, empower the young people and their families, and promote a community-wide re-assessment of the options currently experienced by the more than 40,000 young Minnesotans who each year must live away from home."

By casting a wide net for different types of performance talent -- hip-hip aficionados, dancers, poets, storytellers, interested community members with a narrative to share -- the event's organizers moved squarely toward that goal. One performer, Truthmaze, used statistics spoken over jazz and reggae beats to get the point across. Others, such as Paris and Amy Salloway, used more personal material drawn from their own lives.

The three works brief, intense works recited by El Guante spoke more broadly about how art impacts the human condition and how communities respond to crisis. Curator Sha Cage, one of the co-founders of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, appropriated a line from his last offering as an impromptu mantra for the evening. "Give me a bridge," she implored the audience of dozens to repeat, "and I'll build." The response Cage wanted came quickly.

The exhibit counterpart to the performance runs Oct. 6-Dec. 29 at the Minneapolis Central Library, and includes visual and narrative art. The final performance event is Dec. 13, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Download eight tracks from four different artists -- and find links to more information -- after the jump.

MP3 DOWNLOADS
e.g. bailey, "Descended From Drum," 6:23
e.g. bailey, "America," 5:51

El Guante, "Ink," 3:53
El Guante, "Small Talk," 3:49
El Guante, "Bridges," 1:51

Truthmaze's meditation on homelessness, 3:55

Verse, "Africa," 3:08
Verse, "Lesson One," 1:52

ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB
Tru Ruts, a multidisciplinary arts organization featuring Sha Cage, e.g. bailey, Truthmaze and others

El Guante's homepage, blog and MySpace

e.g. bailey's homepage and MySpace

Sha Cage's homepage and MySpace

Amy Salloway's MNartists page

Truthmaze on MySpace

Sponsoring organizations:
The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest

The Minneapolis Central Library



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