Airplane peanuts and cigarette butts: Interactive art at the Weisman

An art piece with an airplane
For artist Katayoun Amjadi's "The Names We Change," visitors can snack on airplane peanuts, listen to unusual "in-flight" programming and sniff "scent of airplane."
Alex V. Cipolle | MPR News

A bench that purrs and vibrates. Pungent perfumes with names like “LOL,” “Best Left Alone” and “Dammit Jim.” A row of airplane seats where you can eat a snack.

These are some of 16 unusual artworks by more than 21 contemporary artists on display for the interactive exhibition “The Other Four” at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

“There’s some pretty strong conceptual ideas in a lot of these pieces,” local independent curator John Schuerman says. “But you can think about that stuff later. In the moment you get to play with it and feel it and sense it.”

An art piece with coins
In the foreground, coins fall from the ceiling for artist Ken Steinbach's piece "I Only Love You." In the background, you can touch a perpetually updated replication of the opposite side of the world with artist David Bowen's "the other side."
Alex V. Cipolle | MPR News

On a tour at the Weisman, Schuerman — a Minneapolis artist — says he’s been developing the exhibition for almost a decade, a show that focuses on the senses beyond sight.

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As Schuerman speaks, a loud clanking noise sounded every few minutes: Commemorative coins falling from the ceiling for “I Only Love You” by artist and Bethel University professor Ken Steinbach.

Schuerman says he hopes the exhibition would attract unlikely visitors.

“That would fulfill part of a vision for me,” he says. ”If people who maybe don't normally come into contemporary art museums found something interesting here.”

Bottles line a wall
"Common Scents" by Wendy Fernstrum.
Alex V. Cipolle | MPR News

When he came up with the concept for the show, Schuerman says he was researching the senses.

“You find out interesting things like 50 percent of our frontal cortex is mapped to vision, and the other four senses get the rest,” he says. “Then I started to notice things like, when I'm really operating based on vision, it's really easy for me to get lost in thought.”

Schuerman wanted to create a show where attendees couldn’t get lost in thought but rather would have to engage with work in the moment. Each piece has instructions on how to smell, touch, taste, hear or wear the artwork. He reached out to 21 artists from around the region; most of the work on view was made specifically for this show. 

An art piece on a red table
Artist Lucy Derickson recreated her father's breath using cigarette butts and cough drops for “Surrogate Devices: The Smell of Him, 1987 – 2001.”
Alex V. Cipolle | MPR News

One of the pieces that delighted and surprised him the most? A Rube Goldberg-type contraption that recreates the breath of the artist’s father using cigarette butts, cough drops and a fan. This is artist Lucy Derickson’s “Surrogate Devices: The Smell of Him, 1987 – 2001.”

In front of it sits a stool.

“If you sit here,” Schuerman points, “you get the sense of her father's breath because he was a smoker and he covered it up with Halls.”

There will be an artist roundtable conversation April 3 on how “‘The Other Four’ promotes intimacy between audience and artwork through touch, breath and close listening.” The exhibition is up through May 19.

A piece of art
"Sensory Seat for Pourous Beings" by Kate Casanova purrs and vibrates.
Alex V. Cipolle | MPR News
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.