Visiting Artist | 2021
Minneapolis-based collaborative trio SuperGroup has been making performance for twelve years while based in Minneapolis, MN. They will come to MANCC for the first time to further explore their work as a long-time collaborative team. Comprised of Erin Search-Wells, Sam Johnson, and Jeffrey Wells, SuperGroup has been known for their creation of a range of performance experiences, including evening-length shows, durational improvisations, dance films, and short cabaret works. At this juncture, their collaboration is in a major phase of transition as they grapple with the tough realities of the unstable nature of collaborations through time, the unforgiving conditions of being performance makers in a 4- dimensional culture, and the shifting priorities that come with moving into middle aged-ness.
In the midst of all this reordering, they are attempting to return to an earlier time, a decade ago, when they were at the beginning of SuperGroup’s existence. They are asking, What got us into this circumstance of collaborative art in the first place? What have we missed in our individual artistic process as we’ve been tending to our groupness? Is there something behind us that might propel us into what’s next? Also, what is art?
Their last project, Research Council, was initiated with regard to how knowledge is treated in various group contexts. Can unknowing and not knowing be as valuable as knowing? How do groups decide what is true in a world of fake news and independent content creation? What processes of knowing and meaning making are at work in SuperGroup’s own self-myths as a long-term collaboration? These questions have led to two key performative practices of which they believe they’ve only begun to scratch the surface: “doing nothing” and “choreographic silence.”
Part of the residency was to include workshops with the inimitable Mary Overlie, the originator of the Six Viewpoints, in explorations of The Unnecessary, the horizontal, audience, practice-sharing, and discussions about living a lifetime as an artist. Mary passed away in June 2020 and SuperGroup is reevaluating everything. We are all left with the wisdom Mary brought to the field of performance, and with a world forever changed by the way she encouraged us all to experience it.
They are viewing their time at MANCC as a kind of retro workshop; a chance to reconnect to their specific history together, bringing new selves to old practices, and old selves to new practices, in the service of finding a way forward. All of this can’t help but happen in the context of a long standing interest in multi-world and multi-tasked performance, performing incongruous tasks simultaneously to explore binaries, slippage, and virtuosity. In particular, they continue to be curious about developing movement practices that intentionally undermine or contradict congruently performed logical narrative text as a way to elicit cognitive strain in an audience; a state where synthesis is compromised and meaning-making gets confused, but also a state where it becomes possible to engage in an awareness of the act of spectating/participating itself. By disrupting these cognitively-associated, normatively coherent modes, they will be looking for ways to enact a bodily resistance to sense, knowing, and linear cohesiveness in order to sit longer in the unknown. They’re not sure what to expect, or what will happen, but there will be consequences.
This residency is supported, in part, by a partnership with McKnight Choreographer Fellowships, funded by The McKnight Foundation and administered by The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts.