Ruby-Crowned Kinglets | Help!


Ruby-Crowned Kinglets | Help! was part of Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains at Intersection for the Arts, April 11 – May 26, 2012 


Megan Wilson in collaboration with Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Installation, part of Broadside Attractions/ Vanquished Terrains, Intersection for the Arts, 2012

Ruby-Crowned Kinglets | Help! 

Curated by Megan Wilson and Maw Shein Win in collaboration with Kevin Chen and Intersection for the ArtsBroadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains featured twelve pairs of visual artists and writers creating new collaborative work inspired by the historical broadside and reflections on current events and contemporary culture using the theme of “vanquished terrains” as a point of departure. The project paid homage to the history of printed matter as a means of public communication, highlighted cross-disciplinary work between artists and writers, and demonstrated a 21st Century reinterpretation of one of the original forms of public communication.

Part One: The Visual Artists provided their writer collaborator with a “playlist” inspired by the theme Vanquished Terrains. The playlist included: One piece of music One movie One location 

Part Two: The Writers created a poem or prose up to 1,000 words based on the playlist provided to them by their artist collaborator.

Part Three: The Visual Artists created a 2-dimensional graphic black & white image inspired by the written piece created by their writer collaborator. 

Part Four: The written and visual works created in Parts Two & Three were paired together and printed as a traditional broadside. The size of the broadside is 15 by 22 inches. The broadsides were printed by Lisa Rappoport/Littoral Press.

Part Five: The Collaborative Teams worked together to create a non-traditional interpretation of the broadside, integrating the written text from Part Two.


Intersection Exhibition

For the exhibition at Intersection for the Arts I created a series of hand-painted signs with:
1. Decorative imagery and imperatives from the text of Hugh’s poem painted on a patch of mint green wall; 
2. The plea for “Help” in different languages; and
3. The images of the birds from the traditional broadside.

The installation reflected on how the demonstration/protest sign has become one of the most used and effective forms of viral messaging as a contemporary broadside. The signs were made from 1/4" plywood, ranging in size from 8" x 6" to 28" x 18" with text and imagery painted in black against color backgrounds.

In addition to the signs on the wall, the installation provided stacks of signs on the floor for visitors to take for FREE. I also included signs for visitors to take from previous projects / demonstrations.



MUSIC: Sarah Was Ninety Years Old by Arvo Pärt (1977) 
FILM: Chinatown directed by Roman Polanski (1974) 
LOCATION: Joshua Tree, CA

My playlist was developed as a meditation on “vanquished terrains” as territories of conflict, defeat, and victory. I selected: 1) the film Chinatown based on its complex narrative reflecting the historical disputes over land and water rights that raged in southern California during the 1910s and 1920s; 2) the location Joshua Tree for its majestic beauty and its representation of the ability of life to adapt to and flourish in the face of extreme and unfavorable conditions; and 3) Arvo Pärt’s Sarah Was Ninety Years Old from the album Miserere for its slow, meditative tempo and minimalism.

Hugh’s Response - Megan’s Response

Hugh's response to my playlist was that he found the prompts to be heavy, almost ponderous. As a counter he picked a species of bird, the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet found in Joshua Tree that, despite its fancy name, is one of the smallest birds found in North America, and a very energetic bird, always in motion, resourceful, flitting (for the past year Behm Steinberg has been working on a series of poems incorporating species of birds found in various bio-regions). He then took language from the Chinatown script pertaining to water and combined it with biblical text, which struck him as about delight, of the absurdity of becoming a parent at the age of 90. The poem is full of will, of deciding amidst set boundaries, mixing information about the biology and habits of these birds with imperatives and struggles drawn from the Bible and the script. A tiny bird in a place not much inclined towards tiny birds.

My response to Hugh's poem was inspired by the decadent, baroque imagery that the work elicited for me in contrast and support of the struggle and elegance I reflected on through my playlist. Based on this opposition/accord, I conceived of a hungry, yet dignified pigeon and its offspring demonstrating their need for help in contrast to the decadent and precious Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.

A huge THANK YOU to Kevin Chen and Intersection for the Arts, Christopher Statton, and Jake Thomason for their support and HELP!!!!