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“Friction Fiction” brings urban landscapes to life

Obsidian Arts and The Soap Factory will use animation to create urban commentary.

“Friction Fiction” explores the environment of urban life and blurs the lines of reality with its use of animation.

The exhibit, presented by the Soap Factory and Obsidian Arts, features a survey of nine contemporary black animation artists from around the world. The artists’ animations will give viewers a perspective on life from an urban environment.

“The subjects these artists deal with are about what urban life is as they see it, and that often runs counter to what other people would think urban life is,” said Roderic Southall, event curator and director of Obsidian Arts. “By bringing them together, they’ve created a commentary that allows us to see the world differently. … They’ve created some friction between what is fiction and what is nonfiction.”

The exhibit will open on Saturday and run through March 8.

“All of these artists play in between reality and fantasy,” Southall said. “What you see is reality, but what they create on top of it is a different reality.”

The truth about life and urban life are two different things, he said.

“In photography, the moment in time is real, but when there is a series of photographs frame by frame, you get to manipulate what’s real,” Southall said.

All the works will be presented at once in the gallery with each animation at its own designated space with headphones. Some animations will be shown on small television monitors, while others will be large projections, said Kate Arford, program manager of exhibitions at The Soap Factory.

“This is probably the first show I’ve seen that is completely animation-based,” Arford said. “I think animation is really accessible for a wide variety of people. It’s easy to understand and has a narrative that people can follow.”

The urban themes of the works fit especially well with the urban feel of the space at the Soap Factory, Arford said.

“Sometimes it’s difficult because the work will clash with the sort of warehouse space we have here, but I love when an exhibition can work with it, and this will look absolutely beautiful,” said Arford.

The exhibit will feature the work of Tim Portlock, Ron Brown, Caress Reeves, Terence X Nance, Kevin Wideman, Africanus Okokon, Ng’endo Mukii, Martine Chartrand and Nina Barnett.

On the final night of the exhibit, there will be a screening of Terence Nance’s full-length film, “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” — a film co-executive produced by Jay-Z — and an artist talk by Portlock.

For the event, Portlock is back for his third artwork showing in Minneapolis, exhibiting a 4-minute animation titled, “11th Street City Symphony.”

“It mimics the view from the art gallery [where the work was originally shown] and the animation itself is kind of a narrative of the changes that have happened in the neighborhood and what those changes will look like in the future,” Portlock said.

Most of his work has used conventions of American-landscape painting. His work contrasts with the American ideals of the genre by demonstrating the reality of urban living, Portlock said.

“I wanted people to think about the way cities evolve and especially evolve in relationship to economic crises and demographic changes and neighborhoods,” Portlock said.

Portlock looks forward to showing his work among the survey of contemporary black animators.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of [an exhibition specifically made up black animators], and I thought it would be exciting to be a part of it,” Portlock said.


What: “Friction Fiction”

When: 7 p.m.–11 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Soap Factory,
514 Second St. SE,

Cost: Free

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