See Minnesota Winter Anew During the Great Northern Festival

From Jan. 28 to Feb. 7, events include Dream the Combine’s winter movement series, plus art, music, food, and more
Jason Blackeye/Unsplash

Self-propelled travel can be meditation, sustenance, sport, artistic exploration, work, and human connection. But is there more to it than that? For the Great Northern Festival of 2021, Minneapolis-based architecture and art duo Dream the Combine have created an immersive series that will allow participants to explore winter through a fresh perspective—all by taking a walk.

Jennifer Newsom and partner Tom Carruthers’ past Dream the Combine projects examined how the body navigates public space through site-specific installations deploying imaginary environments and perceptual uncertainties to reframe how people see the world. “Our walks aim to provoke discovery and seeing our city, landscape, and each other in unexpected ways,” Newsom says.

Starting January 28, registrants (sign up here by January 27 at 5 p.m.) in “Dream The Combine: TRACKING, A Polyrhythm of Winter” will receive daily movement prompts via text message, and then can take part in a multimedia conversation of audio, video, and photos while embracing the heart of winter. The input will edited together to create an immersive portrait of this season.

These prompts may augment participants’ sensory experiences of the snow, ice, and winter sky. “[At Dream the Combine], we are curious trespassers, so walking is often the way in which we discover new things about familiar places,” Newsom says. “Having the opportunity to look at our own city with this ‘beginner’s mind’ has been a really engaging part of the process.”

Dream the Combine's Jennifer Newsom (left) and Tom Carruthers
Dream the Combine’s Jennifer Newsom (left) and Tom Carruthers

Photo by Martin Szabo

To prep, Dream the Combine studied histories of walking, from biological, political, and socio-cultural perspectives. Newsom also pulled ideas about navigating public space from the architecture course she teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

This experience adds the lens of climate change, asking questions like, “How will winter, and our experience of it, change as the planet warms?” and “How might thinking about this future winter modify what we cherish about the present?”

On March 20, the date of the vernal equinox, the project concludes with the release of audio tracks created by artist Isaac Gale, who has collaborated with many of the Twin Cities’ top musicians.

The Great Northern runs January 28 to February 7

One of the Great Northern Festival’s goals in 2021 is a call to action via winter celebration. This year’s lineup includes food, art, panels, films, and musical performances evoking new artistic director Kate Nordstrum’s past work as curator of the Liquid Music series; digital animated artwork by St. Paul artist Marlena Myles; and an installation of Tia Keobounpheng’s Unweaving at the Theodore Wirth Park Trailhead. A day before, on January 27, a grilling experience led by Union Hmong Kitchen chef Yia Vang will take place near the Highlight Tower in northeast Minneapolis.

See all events associated with the Great Northern here.