A Most Beautiful Home … Maybe, a show by Mixed Blood, opened at Springboard for the Arts last night. It’s an interactive, participatory work on housing. It includes dancing zebras and a zebra torch singing Skeeter Davis – and other well-loved songs from various eras. They impart knowledge – like 15 percent of renters in the Twin Cities are behind in their rent. They encourage conversation with strangers – I spoke with people who didn’t know anyone living in a NOAH (mom and pop type landlord) rental units, which is my current situation.
The level of discomfort was just enough to keep a person listening, not enough to be off putting. I said one word out loud, which is pretty good for me. The action is the presentation of the stories and opportunities for engagement. There were a couple lines that caught me – art emerges before the world ends. Or before is transforms. The idea provides focus and sets expectations. But it’s true and it presents a hope that the art may impact the change.
History is infrastructure was another line that caught me. The policy decisions made generations ago are still impacting housing today. Systemic racism was built into policy and it’s hard to know now whether it started as policy or a value because they are entwined now. That kind of infrastructure should be easier to change than an old building or road but it isn’t. In small groups we played a game trying to plan for better housing and it was clear to see that people have a hard time giving up existing infrastructure, even when they think it isn’t working. And people have a hard time seeing beyond their own perspective – even in art.
The holidays are coming. Soon we will soon be sitting with family members we love, but don’t always agree with. An interesting holiday challenge might be to bring your family to this show. It’s a gentle on ramp to discussions that should be happening if art is going to impact change. Let the show seed productive table talk over the holidays. These days there are no safe topics – even the weather is political – so why not let art lead the way? You can always talk about the amazing singing, role of movement in a live show or clever staging if things get too heated.
The show runs October 28-November 7, 2021.