The M Blog
The M Blog is an online space for us and for you — artists, museum staff and curators, guest writers, and community contributors — to discuss issues and ideas related to the many experiences of being American today.
Get to Know: SuperGroup
ON OPENING DAY AT THE NEW MINNESOTA MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, in addition to a ribbon-cutting, live music, and tons of hands-on activities happening throughout the new museum, you’ll also find SuperGroup, a Twin Cities dance collaborative, performing for (and with!) visitors throughout the M’s galleries all day. SuperGroup’s team includes performance artists Erin Search-Wells, Sam Johnson, and Jeffrey Wells. Here’s an inside look at what you can expect December 2, when SuperGroup joins us to celebrate the museum’s long-awaited (re)opening!
Jauston Charles Campbell (M Communications Intern): How did SuperGroup form?
SuperGroup: We’ve been making work as SuperGroup for a little over 10 years, but we’ve known each other for much longer. We actually all met in high school together in Minneapolis. After high school, we each went to various places, but stayed in relationship with each other. As it turned out, we all ended up back in Minneapolis by 2008; as we reconnected, we decided we shared some similar interests and questions around performance that we didn’t see other folks exploring, so we decided to start working together.
JCC: How do you respond when people call you “dancers”? Are you dancers?
SuperGroup: We definitely identify as dancers, each of us in different ways. In the Twin Cities, we find ourselves most at home in the dance world. Certainly, that is where our community of artistic peers resides. Though we know, in other places, we might be labeled different things, and might find folks in other disciplines who are interested in the same kind of work we’re interested in. At the core of most of our work are questions related to bodies in space, time, culture, and history. So, we feel like, even if the performance we share with an audience is us sitting naked at a table singing, the impulse is a question about bodies, and we are dancing (which isn’t to say that we are not other things besides dancers, too).
JCC: Are you preparing differently to perform in a museum space than you would for a more traditional, theatrical production?
SuperGroup: We aren’t preparing differently per se, except in that, for each performance we make, we prepare in specific ways for that work. So, knowing that we’ll be all over the museum; that it will be a piece that occurs over a long period of time; that there won’t be a physical or light barrier between us and the audience; and that the audience will be coming and going and, most likely, discovering us, as opposed to coming specifically for us—all of these things change how we approach making and performing the piece. For this piece, we aren’t interested in imaginative transformation as much as we are interested in the specific place. In some ways, this is a unique opportunity, because almost everyone will be discovering the space for the first time, together. We’re curious about how our performance—our bodies, our presence—can offer folks different ways to be in the space, and to begin to construct the subjective reality of the space, now that the physical building has been realized.
JCC: What do you hope visitors to the M will take away from their encounters with you at the museum?
SuperGroup: We hope they’ll have a re-organization in the way they see the museum: objects in museums, people in museums, and how their body in the space changes and, in fact, constructs the work on view. We also hope it will be something fun to experience—a little irreverent, and a little absurd.
You can see SuperGroup perform throughout the galleries on Opening Day, December 2, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Find more at mmaa.org/openingday.
SuperGroup is the choreographic collaboration of Sam Johnson, Erin Search-Wells, and Jeffrey Wells. Since their inception in 2008, they have been committed to creating complex performance work that emerges from meticulously crafted creation processes that synthesize and amplify their individual strengths, interests, and experiences, while also drawing on histories of contemporary performance. They create work that simultaneously reflects the messy contradictions of our complicated lives and encourages alternate perceptions of what we think we know. Rooted in the body and using the fundamental tools of collaboration, improvisation, and layering, their work rigorously and playfully questions the forms and content of contemporary dance in an effort to continually rediscover its unique value in the here and now, and to unearth new ways to communicate.