Transart MFA student Anne Labovitz’ 122 Conversations in Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan

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Photo and video credit: Ari Mstafa

122 Conversations embodies the belief that art can be a catalyst for positive social change. It’s a cultural collaboration with artist Anne Labovitz, Duluth Sister Cities International, and the University of Minnesota Duluth School’s of Fine Arts.

Inspired by the 122 anniversary of the Duluth Sister Cities International, Labovitz is talking with people in five countries and translating her conversations into art pieces. She began in Thunder Bay, Canada in September 2015. From here the exhibition will travel to Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan, (winter 2017); Växjö, Sweden (early spring 2017); Petrozavodsk, Russia (late Spring);  Ohara-­Isumi City, Japan (Winter 2018); and Duluth (May 2018).

122 Conversations: Person to Person, Art Beyond Borders

122 Conversations is a 5-year artist lead project that is a catalyst for positive social change one individual at a time.

The artwork in the exhibition represents two years of planning and 60 Skype or in ­person interviews involving ten residents from each of the six sister cities, including the mayor of each city. The large ­scale paintings were created by Labovitz in her studio and are inspired by the spirited interview exchanges. Each of the artworks depict an interpretative vision of the conversations that include faces, words, and descriptions of the experiences that relate to the individuals involved. The work chronicles the essence of human interaction through relational listening into palimpsest paintings and video. An integral component is a public invitation for attendees to contribute to an anthology of stories. All are invited to contribute to the exhibition using materials provided, transforming their responses to the exhibition into art pieces that will, in turn, travel with the show as it progresses from each city onto its culminating venue at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth.

Using lightweight, portable materials, the artwork is delivered or hand carried to the venue and assembled for exhibition. As customs and shipping requirements vary, the work is adapted to the individual venue site and thus provides each city with its unique exhibition. The pieces exemplify embracing cultural differences and methods of communication through its adaptability.

The exhibition had its initial opening in Thunder Bay, Canada in 2015 and recently opened in Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan this January at http://www.raparinuni.org

All materials were sent to Rania in one suitcase with detailed instructions. An iPod is being used to document the entire process with photos and videos automatically uploaded to the 122 Conversations website. Coinciding with each exhibition venue will be artist ­led workshops with both adults and students.

Future dates:

Opening March 4, 2017 Växjö, Sweden March 4, 2017 at Växjö Konsthall

Petrozavodsk, Russia, May 25 – June 17, 2017 at Petrozavodsk City Exhibition Hall

Ohara-Isumi City, Japan, January 2018

Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN, February 2018.

Labovitz traveled with the exhibition to Canada, and will attend Sweden, Japan, and USA openings. A Skype conference between Rania and Växjö will be held by Anne while she is in Sweden connecting the project and two cities.

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