Arts events don't typically come with written manifestos, but nothing about Transannual could be described as "typical."
On a windy afternoon, some artists participating in the avant-garde event—which will happen from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 22, along Adams Avenue between 32nd and 34th streets in Normal Heights—stand beneath the marquee at the old Discount Fabrics store on Adams Avenue, which is advertising the event, and do their best to describe, without giving away too much, what people can expect. They want to keep things a little mysterious, hoping people will be intrigued enough to show up.
"Basically, the street becomes the studio," says Robert Sanchez of robyko, a collaborative art project he does with his wife, Emiko Lewis-Sanchez. "It's about an experience—coming upon art in a fresh way without expectations."
"You can't really have any expectations for this event," artist Lawrence Chit adds. "We only have these ideas that could change at any moment."
Transannual, the artists explain, is a response to consumer-focused art fairs. Nothing at the event will be for sale. None of the participating artists is getting paid. The event's sole purpose is to get people to experience art in its many forms, with an emphasis on conceptual work that follows in the footsteps of Dadaism or other art movements based on anti-commercial themes.
What folks won't see when they show up to Adams Avenue on the day of the event is a sea of booths hawking paintings or other art objects. Instead, they'll stumble upon a series of experimental, site-specific happenings—anything from film to interactive / participatory performance or installation art. There's no map indicating where you can find the art; people have to explore the designated area on their own.
There's also an emphasis on improvisation; while the core artists—robyko, Jason Gould, Tony Allard, Kim Garcia, John Paul Labno, Noe Olivas and Brett Phelps—and their teams of collaborators have an idea of what they and others are doing, the artists are encouraged to respond in real time to the site, the audience or any other unknowns.
"There really is going to be a lot of improvisation the day-of," Gould says. "What happens on the 22nd is probably going to be a variation of what I thought I was going to be doing."