Laomagination 20 Year Retrospective a success

The Laomagination 20 Year Retrospective at the New Rules building in North Minneapolis recently wrapped up after an epic three month show.

The project brought over 55 pieces for art from artists across the country who had been involved in various degrees with Lao speculative art and cultural reconstruction over the previous two decades. A very special thanks was extended to the Subverted Fairy Project for their technical support and participation.

Funding support was provided by The Asian Pacific Endowment, the Rhizome Foundation, Forecast Public Art and the Laomagination Patreon supporters. This activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. In November 2008, Minnesotans passed the Clean Water, Land & Legacy amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, which created the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Proceeds from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund “may be spent only on arts, arts education and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.”

Laomagination ran from April 12th until June 30, 2019. New Rules was open Monday – Thursday from 11-7 p.m., and Friday 10 -3 p.m. at 2015 N Lowry Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Future presentations of the Laomagination exhibit will build off of the ideas presented during this season, notably the display of key textual, visual, video, and performance works reflecting the first 20 years of the Laomagination movement.

Additionally supporting artists are brought in to provide art classes or workshops, editing sessions, performances, film screenings, and community conversations. Typically almost 40 events are provided for the community during this period using best practices from public art approaches.

The organizers are still getting the final numbers regarding how many people saw the exhibit but it is estimated at over 600 throughout the period. While they had a many challenges because of conflicts with Lao New Year and Asian American Heritage Month celebrations, among other projects, the organizers appreciated those who could stop by and left feedback for future exhibits.

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Like many artistic movements, the concept of Laomagination was not initially understood as such, but emerged after nearly a decade as a catchall phrase for a particular aesthetic approach to post-war reconstruction efforts of the Lao scattered around the globe, with many found in United States and Canada.

This was one of the very first times the original art by Ajahn Setthithorn did for the Laomagination Project was ever exhibited in the United States, and it was a special treat to be able display them in their large format pieces the way he wanted them to be seen, especially in time for his 70th birthday. This set included the portraits of Kaysone Syonesa, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Mattie Do, Sydney Viengluang, Lisa Teasley, Phet Mahathongdy O’Donnell, Sokunthary Svay, Chanida Phaengdara Potter, and Neil Gaiman, among others.

Other artists featured in the show included Sahtu Press founder Nor Sanavongsay, Kinnary Phimpadubsee, Kulap Vilaysack, Vongduane Manivong, Loy Khambay-Correa, Sydney Viengluang, Steve Arounsack, Camino, and the work of Aloun Phoulavan. Artists from the Subverted Fairy Project were featured, notably Xee Reiter, Vu Dang, Riawa Thomas-Smith, Michael O’Leary and others.

As a multigenerational effort, the main artists vary widely in age and demographic experience but it can be argued many of its leading figures are from Generation X, born in the 1970s and coming of age in the 1980s. Cosmicism, inhumanism, fluxus, hip-hop, punk, science fiction and fantasy are among the artistic movements that had significant influences on many of those involved in the project.

Sahtu Press