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Soma Salon 002 Poster
Soma Salon 002 Poster

May 7, 2022, 4:00 pm7:00 pm

We are excited to invite you to the final presentation for the course Art & the Public Sphere (Choreographing the City). The course develops an emerging lexicon for movement in urban space, merging notions of choreography, city-making, community and the new climatic regime. The course taught by prof. Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with MIT CAST visiting artist Dr. Adesola Akinleye offers students the engagement possibility with an artistic process and a translation method through a set of movement labs that engage local communities across Boston. 

As the urban domain has become the main site in which the climate crisis is felt, but also the place where alternative futures are imagined and performed, thus this class attempts to connect with sites of resilience. Therefore, the class explores how the corporeal experience of space might help us to communicate the climate-induced changing structures of the city and to inform more sustainable forms of city-making. 

The three conceptual lenses through which the participants in this class were suggested to look into the Urban domain are The Forest, The River and The Swamp. As such these conceptual lenses hopefully would (A) connect with pressing concerns on climate crisis – making bridge between community / injustice / climate change, and (B) help to un-earth the underlying (pre-Columbian, indigenous) landscape in the city, affected by a settler economy and colonization. 

This Saturday, May 7th, 4-7pm at the The Herter Intercommunity Garden

A first series of final presentations takes place in and around the Herter Park and Community Garden. Altogether the interventions constitute a ‘Soma Salon’, in which movement, the body, space and the changing climate are a point of discussion. Here’s a preview of the 4 presentations to take place: 

Branching by Iris Zeng, MIT Architecture

Branching was conceptualized as a project to connect the bodily experience of the landscape and the living creatures of Herter Park, namely trees. With treated branches collected from the site, with exposing roots, with chopped tree trunks, one can anchor, balance, dance, connect and grow with the plants. This project aims to provide a moment for community and visitors to establish a relationship with the otherness of themselves on this site. Acknowledging the land was taken from the native people of this land, this project wants to invite everyone to think without their mind, through the body to understand the connection of earthly beings.

Tilting the Scales by Lauren Gideonse and Katherine Rotman, MIT Architecture

Tilting the Scales was developed to direct conversation and gather people around the idea of working in common, group dynamics and collective and cooperative action. Lauren and Katie have been workshopping a series of games that bring together different stakeholders around these topics. The iteration for Herter Park Community Garden focuses on the cadence of gardening formed by individual labor toward the care of a shared space. The rhythms of gameplay demonstrate the dynamics between advocates for the community garden and larger city bureaucracies as they navigate the challenge of shepherding an uncomforming space in the public sphere. 

Garden Song by Danny Clarke, Harvard GSD: PUBLICS
Garden Song extends an invitation to renew our sense of perception and interconnection with the life forces around us. Through the transposition of bio-electrical signals emitted from garden plants, Garden Song creates an ambient soundscape performed by garden plants. Garden Song is a celebration of community, cultivation, and land, an invocation of shared experiences and collective memory.  

Dream Study by Phoebe Yang, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Adam, the subject of this “dream study,” was asked to imagine that he is being dreamt by the ocean. The choreography thus started from there. He wandered in a forest, we took a silent walk along the coastline, he read poetry behind a veil, and we had strange conversations that neither of us can now remember. We danced. Everywhere. I, the photographer and the choreographer, recorded everything. It was a three-day dream study. Is the natural world conscious of our being? If so, how does it see/imagine/remember us? “

Interventions by Kun Wei, Harvard GSD: Landscape Architecture

The respondents
Lorena Bello, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture, Harvard GSD

Grisha Coleman, Associate Professor of Movement, Computation, and Digital Media in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering at Arizona State University


Class members:

Stacey Berman, costume designer and graduate student at Harvard GSD: Narratives 

Ashmi Mridul, artist and graduate student at MIT ACT 

Yuting Zeng (Iris), artist/architect and graduate student at MIT Architecture 

Lauren Gideonse, artist/architect and graduate student at MIT Architecture  

Phoebe Yang, artist and graduate student at Harvard Graduate School of Education 

Shuyue Li, artist and graduate student at Harvard GSD: art & Public Domain 

Yiou Wang, artist and graduate student at Harvard GSD: art & Public Domain  

Terry Kang, artist/programmer and undergrad at MIT Mathematics with Computer Science, with a concentration in ACT.

Wei Kun, architect and graduate student at Harvard GSD: Landscape Architecture 

Danny Clarke, artist/architect and graduate student at Harvard GSD: PUBLICS

Bridget Chemberlin, artist/activist and undergrad at Harvard College, Native American Program

Gediminas Urbonas, artist and Associate Professor in Visual Art at MIT ACT


Visiting Artist

Dr. Adesola Akinleye, dancer and choreographer, CAST visiting artist at MIT


Teaching Assistant

Christopher Joshua Benton, artist and filmmaker, graduate researcher at ACT  


Research Assistant

Dr. Louis Volont, sociologist & Fulbright visiting scholar at ACT (‘21-’22), Antwerp University