Northern Sparks looks to raise awareness over climate change

The sixth annual event offers free music and entertainment along the Mississippi River.

Attendees crowd the Stone Arch Bridge during last year's Northern Spark.

Patrick Kelley

Attendees crowd the Stone Arch Bridge during last year’s Northern Spark.

Raj Chaduvula

From dusk-to-dawn, Northern Lights will kick-off its “Northern Sparks” art celebration Saturday — and this year, the festival is bringing attention to hard-hitting issues.

The free, all-night festival — which began in 2011 — is an annual assemblage of art, music and food. More than 70 artists and artists’ collectives will have their work on display at Saturday’s festival, and most of the pieces reflect on the festival’s general theme, “Climate Chaos / Climate Rising.”

Nathan Young, curatorial assistant for the event, said the theme was influenced by the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. This year, the festival will act as a platform for artists to explore the impact and intricacies of climate change through interactive installations and performances.

One such attraction, Making the Best of It: Dandelion, is an art project that will begin its 12-month long installation on Saturday at Northern Sparks, Young said. The project is a pop-up food refuge and community dinner, where participants can discuss how climate change affects their food consumption habits and diet.

Backyard Phenology, another installation on display during the festival, is an art piece that encourages people to gather and discuss their perception and observations of climate change, Young said.

Co-sponsored by the Walker Art Center and North Lights and Sundance Institute, participants of Virtual Reality: A New Frontier, can view a collection of virtual reality works created by local and international artists.

Throughout the night, festival-goers can watch a choreographed dance — entitled Census — that includes over 100 performers. The dance will occur once every hour throughout the night, Young said.

Multiple other installations and large-scale projections will take place during the nightlong festival, including a musical performance by Minneapolis hip-hop group Doks Robotiks. The events are scattered along the Mississippi River, with the hub of artistic activity anchored at the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater.

The event starts at 9 p.m. in the Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard in Minneapolis and lasts until 5:30 a.m.