On the north side of Denny Way, just past REI in South Lake Union, sits a 90,000-square-foot gravel lot—not an unusual sight for the rapidly developing neighborhood. he lot is easy to ignore, especially when driving by on the increasingly traffic-filled Denny. Even easier to miss is In Situ, the 800-square-foot sculptural installation by Portland artist Karl Burkheimer. At a glance it appears to be a collection of plywood, possibly the remnants of a former construction project, or one yet to come.
The installation slopes nearly twelve feet from Denny to John Streets The graceful plywood construction rises in a gentle slope of its own, the ving the climb to a central platform with a large circle cut out of the middle. seeming nod to the surrounding development, In Situ is part of ALL RISE—a series of performances and temporary installations at the location of Seattle City Light’s future Denny Substation in the Cascade neighborhood. The project is commissioned with Seattle City Light % for Art funds administered by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
While Burkheimer’s installation is a standalone work, it is slated to cross over into the next project: the InSitu dance residences, which feature four Pacific Northwest artists including Salt Horse, Tahni Holt, Vanessa DeWolf and Alia Swersky. Each choreographer has a week residency at the space which they can use however they want as a study for their final performance.
“The reason why these artists were picked is because they are already curious about site-specific work and the properties that the site offers,” explains Holt, who in addition to performing as part of the project. “I wanted all of the performances to be improvisational in nature, but other than that there are no restrictions.”
The improvisational tone of the dance residencies fits with the of the ALL RISE series creat surprising moments uniquely experiencedf you aren’t there at a certain time on a certain day then you’ll miss it, but if you are present, there is a being a part of a one-time arts experience.
“Our time with the site is a resting space between a period of site cleanup and the building of the substation that will follow,” the co-curators for ALL RISE wrote in an email, remaining anonymous as a way to keep the focus on the artists. “We imagine the site as a stage that is always watched, if even unknowingly. We are hoping to play with that constant audience…. Unlike traditional exhibitions or theaters where people seek out the performance according to their own interest, projects in the public realm have to assume a real multiplicity of viewpointsphysical, political and cultural.”
he dance performances, which happen on the Saturday night at the end of each choreographer’s residency, will be very different, but all be a reaction to or interaction with In Situ.Salt Horse plans to do structured research twice a day during their residencyseeing what the temperature and weather at the site are like, noting when the sun does down, what the lighting is likeand are planning to add color in some way to Burkheimer’s installation. DeWolf on the other hand will take small satellite of people around the neighborhood, asking them to write down observations and reactions to the neighborhood as they explore For the Saturday performances the chain link fence around the lot will come down and the public invited to watch, and depending on which artist is performing, possibly interact.
“Essentially we are situating the arts in a way that makes it difficult to avoid asking the question of why they are not more central to our daily lives,” the curators note. “Whether you are passing through or looking out of a hospital window (as so many do at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance building located across the street from our site), you can experience ALL RISE. If you really want to change the way that people think about and talk about art, you have to present it in a way that is unexpected, and invite people in.”
The lot may be easy to ignore on the commute to work, but for the next four Saturdays it will be hard to pass up as it is transformed into a testament to the power of the arts. The neighborhood might be changing, but creativity will never go away.
tendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.