The "urban labyrinth," according to Charlotte Street curator-in-residence Jamilee Polson Lacy, is full of artists and thinkers constantly trying to activate and connect the city's dynamic spaces. "I think the city presents a plethora of choices — some exciting, some banal, some dangerous — so it's nearly impossible not to think of it as a labyrinth," says Lacy, of Chicago.
For the final show of her residency, she has organized Rises Zora, a multivenue visual- and performance-art project that brings together 35 artists and "labyrinthine thinkers" to perform and to explore public spaces, such as Loose Park, downtown parking lots and the East Bottoms. "Charlotte Street Foundation and Kansas City's artists have guided me through the labyrinth, showing how this city's culture is particularly interested in maximizing the possibilities of the urban plan — the weird and wacky parts of it, really — and playing it like a game. It's great because anything can happen," Lacy says.
Rises Zora opens tonight at 6 at La Esquina (1000 West 25th Street, 816-221-5115). Admission is free. For more information about the project, see riseszora.virb.com. We caught up with Lacy to learn more.
The Pitch: Whom is this project for?
Lacy: Everybody! Rises Zora has been developed to show that artists' ideas and productions shift and change society's courses not only from the white cube gallery. Artists determine reality out in the streets across the city, throughout the labyrinth. Hopefully, this project gives everyone — artists and nonartists alike — the opportunity to witness and participate.
What kind of patterns did you find in the KC labyrinth?
Kansas City was designed on a grid, which is society's attempt at ordering the labyrinth. So there are lots of beautiful right angles that repeat from street level into the design of enormous buildings. But what is more interesting are the random parts of the city, which don't conform to the guiding grid. Places where the highways meet and tangle up, or where the parks and the rivers and new construction are great examples of how the labyrinth can't be controlled by a grid or a society. The labyrinth, the city, is a living, breathing organism.