It was a great night for Nina Caruso and Christopher Schneider. Not only did they win a $5,000 grant from ArtPrize, in collaboration with Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), they are guaranteed a spot at the Vandenberg Center in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize Nine.
ArtPrize is an independently organized art competition billed as the world’s largest annual public art event. It is held annually in Grand Rapids. This year you can take it in September 21-October 8.
Caruso and Schneider, who are artists and teachers, won their spot for their Pitch Night Detroit winning entry, ‘Anonymous.’ Their work was selected from among five artists who were invited to present at Pitch Night event held at the MOCAD on June 1. Each artist was given five minutes and five slides to sell his or her ambitious, site-specific installation idea to a panel of local arts professionals.
The idea for ‘Anonymous’ came from their experience at ArtPrize in 2016 and the entry “Hybrid Structures” installed at SiTE:LAB | The Rumsey Street Project. There Caruso and Schneider saw a series of ramps that traversed and connected abandoned buildings on the site, providing accessible exploration throughout.
While crossing the ramps, they started playing with the structure’s railings and experimenting with speaking through them. They were struck by how well the sound travelled through the pipes and afterwards decided to build on that phenomena for a community engagement artwork. They started experimenting with metal pipes, twisting and bending them, ultimately finding that sound continued to travel well.
“We wanted to find a way to communicate with people so that you could be somewhat anonymous but also present, the person you’re talking to is there,” says Schneider. “Ultimately we’re looking at what ArtPrize does successfully – making it accessible to the public, inviting everyone to come in and participate – and building on that.”
‘Anonymous’ will be part sculpture and part social experiment. It will have four lengths of metal pipe, jumbled and twisted into a freestanding, three-dimensional sculpture roughly 20 feet long and 10 feet tall. Each of the eight pipe ends will be capped with a funnel-like piece and ArtPrize goers will be invited to speak or to listen through them.
“When you talk into one end, you won’t know who’s on the other end hearing what you’re saying. It could be the person right next to you, it could be the person across the way,” says Schneider. “We see this as a social experiment – to see what people will say in such a context, where you have some anonymity. Maybe something enlightening, uplifting, funny, challenging, silly or heartfelt.”
The judging panel for Pitch Night was made up of Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director of MOCAD; Omari Rush, external relations director at Ann Arbor Arts Center; Marc Schwartz, art collector and chair/co-chair of Ponyride, Art Detroit Now, DLECTRICITY & DIA Collections Committee; Gina Reichert, Detroit-based artist and winner of the ArtPrize 2012 Juried Grand Prize through her work with Design 99, and Cezanne Charles, director of creative industries at Creative Many Michigan.
“This piece really was simple, playful, interactive and filled the space with a challenging art that fostered communication,” says Charles of ‘ Anonymous.’
ArtPrize Pitch Night launched in 2013 as a means of discovering and supporting ambitious, exciting projects and to reduce the barriers to bringing them to the annual competition.
Pitch Night Detroit was sponsored by 21c Museum Hotels and Delta Air Lines, and underwritten by Experience Grand Rapids with support from the Knight Foundation.
ArtPrize Nine will take place across downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 20-October 8, 2017. Artist registration is open through June 8.