ART WATCH: In With the New, Fringe Returns to SOU
From May 9-14, Southern Oregon University will be transformed into a playground for grassroots-based performative fine arts exploring this year’s Oregon Fringe Festival theme: The New New.
“It’s a critical call to action,” explains Head Producer Muuqi Maxwell, who talks about fringe festivals’ ability to step beyond a sense of success or failure in art, but rather “an open space for exploration.”
“Fringe,” the term that snowballed into alternative art festivals around the globe, came about in the 1940s when unscheduled theater troupes showed up “round the fringe” of a performing arts festival in Scotland. Today, fringe festivals are irreverently well-established. At SOU, the Oregon Fringe Festival is entering its third year. Maxwell, along with seven other student producers, have put together six days of art installations, presentations, and general shenanigans from a primarily student-based group of artists and performers.
Fellow Fringe Producer and CVA Student Gallery Director Hannah Bakken pointed out their focus on “cross-pollination” at this year’s festival. This meant gathering artists and pulling from resources across the entire campus: they’ve even had the Business department get involved with marketing. And while extending their reach has been part of the production team’s goal, so have sustainability and anchoring. Where last year’s Fringe could be found off campus, this year will be campus-centric, to both draw the community into this educational hub of creative energy and help develop a strong base for future student producers.
A couple of the student artists featured for 2016 are Dylan Keenan and Anja DuBois. Videos of Keenan, a metal-working artist, can been seen on Fringe’s Facebook page, an insight into the futuristic-looking interactive sculpture she’s been welding to be displayed outside of Central Hall. DuBois’ work is a soft contrast to metal and spark, an evolving and performative work with clay slip which she’ll present on Wednesday. Though the full Fringe schedule is still in the throes of being revealed, Bakken offered a preview of the events that will bookend a busy week. The festival will open on Monday with “a silent surprise” as well as Fringe merch and an interactive performance in the Stevenson Union Courtyard. Saturday’s closing event will run from 6pm until midnight with “responsive light and musical performances” in the Art Department Courtyard and local bands Slow Corpse and Impulse Control in the DeBoer Sculpture Building.
Though the production team clearly takes the work of Fringe seriously, what they’re serious about is making space for art in all its unknown possibility. Their mission statement wants to see artists “explore new realities,” precisely the spirit fringe festivals embody and support. As Maxwell puts it: “It’s also kind of a chance to just be weird.”
Oregon Fringe Festival
Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Ave, Ashland.
Full schedule at OregonFringeFestival.org