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Art Center on the ‘Verge’ of major opening event

October 29, 2018 GMT

Art(ists) on the Verge is annually one of the most popular art events in the Twin Cities.

“You have to stand in line to get in to each installation,” Sheila Dickinson, artistic director of the Rochester Art Center, said.

Well, those lines could start forming Sunday at the Rochester Art Center, where this year’s AOV9, as it’s known, will be held for the first time outside the Twin Cities. In the process, arts tourists from the Twin Cities are expected to be on hand when the show opens Sunday.

“That’s why we chose an unusual opening time on a Sunday afternoon,” Dickinson said. “It would be a day outing. People will come down for the artists’ talk and opening.”

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The exhibition consists of installations by five artists, all using technology of some sort. Each piece is interactive and requires participation by the viewer. In that regard, AOV9 is definitely non-traditional.

“It’s not hanging on a wall,’” Dickinson said. “You can’t experience the art unless you do something. If you just stand and look, you really aren’t going to get anything at all. If you think of art as something you admire from afar, that’s not what this is.”

The installations:

• “Mind the Harvest” by Minneapolis artist Meena Mangalvedhekar, consists of 20 iPads, and explores how we give over so much of ourselves to technology.

• “Security Blanket,” by Stephanie Lynn Rogers, originally from Rochester, now director of the Anderson Center in Red Wing. Viewers take cover under a handmade, camouflage quilt while their image is taken by a heat-seeking camera.

• “Smarter City 2,” by Ziyang Wu, of New York. Viewers enter a subway station and meet a cast of strange characters. “It’s a selfie haven,” Dickinson said.

• “Founder Effect,” by Areca Roe, a Minnesota State-Mankato art professor. An immersive 360-degree video field guide that imagines evolutionary adaptations animals might have developed in response to climate change, pollution and deforestation.

• “The Shallows,” by Maxwell Hoagland, of Minneapolis. A machine that illustrates the control we give up over our personal data.

In each case, Dickinson said, the artists are questioning some aspect of our interaction with technology.

“We really have technology in our lives, and it happens so fast, it’s hard to take time to step back and think about it,” Dickinson said. “That’s what these artists are doing.”

The exhibition is unmoored from what is considered classic and traditional art.

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“It doesn’t require you to have any art history knowledge at all,” Dickinson said. “It does what contemporary art is supposed to do: help us consider the world around us. Maybe paint and canvas isn’t helpful at that all the time.”

The exhibition, organized by the Twin Cities arts organization Northern Lights, has ended up in Rochester because the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, where it has been held each year, is undergoing renovation and is not available.

“It’s really amazing to have access to it here,” Dickinson said.