After bouncing around to more than 30 cities worldwide in the past 17 years, the famous RedBall Project is now rolling into Fargo-Moorhead.
Beginning Thursday, Oct. 4, and continuing through Oct. 10, the interactive public art installation featuring a giant 15-foot, 250-pound red ball will be squeezed into doorways, under bridges or between buildings in various locations around the community, with a different location every day.
The concept may sound a little silly, but artist Kurt Perschke says the RedBall Project is not really about the ball itself. Instead, it’s all about what happens around the ball.
“(The) true power of the project is what it can create for those who experience it. It opens a doorway to imagine, ‘What if?'” Perschke says. “As RedBall travels around the world, people approach me on the street with excited suggestions about where to put it in their city. In that moment, the person is not a spectator, but a participant in the act of imagination.”
During its visit to Fargo-Moorhead, the RedBall will appear at Plains Art Museum, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Great Northern Bicycle Co., Lindenwood-Gooseberry Park Bridge, Fargo Park District’s Depot, the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum and the Fargo Theatre.
Plains Art Museum and MSUM are the two lead organizing partners, but they have worked with several supporters in the community to collaborate with Perschke, secure funding and strategize the best time to bring the ball to town.
Perschke works in sculpture, video, collage and public space. The RedBall is his most acclaimed project to date, with appearances in cities like Paris, Barcelona, Sydney, Toronto, Chicago and Taipei.
As part of the process for every host city, Perschke did a site visit of Fargo-Moorhead this summer to determine if the project would be a good fit for the community, and if so, where to place the ball.
“A lot (of the location scouting) was done on foot. I just walked around. In June, it was lovely. I was lucky it wasn’t a winter site visit,” he laughs.
He ultimately chose locations that have heavy foot traffic and historic architecture — two key components that make the project successful.
“When the performance happens in (Fargo-Moorhead), it’s about what the community brings to it. It’s an audience-based work. It’s not going to be complete until the people show up,” he adds.
This all started when MSUM Art Professor Brad Bachmeier approached Plains Art Museum Director and CEO Andy Maus about the idea after coming across the RedBall Project online.
Bachmeier has been part of discussions about public art with local government officials and thought the RedBall Project sounded like a great experiment for the community.
“There was an expressed interest from the arts and culture commissions in Fargo and Moorhead to work together on something, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity for us to collaborate on a piece of public art and introduce the community to what public art can be in a very non-threatening, fun, whimsical kind of way,” he says.
Plains Art Museum staff agreed the RedBall would be a “real opportunity to elevate the dialogue about public art for the city,” Maus adds.
To meet this goal and celebrate the launch of the RedBall Project, Plains Art Museum is hosting a free public art panel featuring artists including Perschke, government officials and arts administrators at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4.
Perschke looks forward to seeing how the community reacts.
“On a fundamental level, the piece has joyfulness, surprise, and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it is trying to tell a story of a community,” he says. “The piece is open to everyone and really is there for people as they take it. That’s part of what it means to do public art.”
To share your RedBall Project experience on social media, use the hashtag #RedBallProject and your images may be featured on the website, Perschke says. For more information, visit www.redballproject.com.
If you go
What: RedBall Project in Fargo-Moorhead
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, through Oct. 10
Where: Seven locations; find the complete list on www.redballproject.com/cities/fargo.
This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, October 1, 2018.
All photos by Tom Martin.