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secret fortunes 1 secret fortunes

A participatory art project that playfully explores the newly formed identity of the Little Mekong business district by eliciting meaningful public contributions for an outdoor animation projection and custom fortune cookies.

Secret Fortunes is a participatory art project that enacts a behind-the-scenes dream exchange, asking community members attending St. Paul Open Streets, “What is your secret dream?” These responses will be curated into an outdoor animation projection and inserted into custom fortune cookies, distributed in collaboration with the Asian Economic Development Association in the Little Mekong district of St. Paul. Participating restaurants Tay Ho and Cheng Heng will help artists Aaron Marx and Andrea Steudel plant these dreams back into the community with fortune cookies and a one night urban intervention in the Tay Ho parking lot.

The Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) was formed in 2006 to increase economic opportunities for low income Asian Americans in the Twin Cities by supporting small business and entrepreneur development. AEDA goals are developing, retaining, and growing Asian-owned small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs in low income neighborhoods of Saint Paul, North Minneapolis, and the Northwest suburbs where large Asian populations are found.

We connected with the Asian Economic Development Association through an invitation in a recent Irrigate email. We contacted AEDA and met with them to discuss their role in the development of Little Mekong.  Little Mekong is a business district with no explicit arts focus so it is a very fitting cross-sector collaboration.  In fact, it was immediately clear how the restaurants of Little Mekong are a major showcase of the district.  Some key ideas that came from our discussions include: desire to increase visibility of restaurants to help them succeed through tough times caused by the light rail construction, general sense of hope for the future among the communities of Little Mekong, and a mutual perception that art can help to catalyze change and further inspire those communities.

Secret Fortunes is a participatory art project that playfully explores the newly formed identity of the Little Mekong business district by eliciting meaningful public contributions for custom fortune cookies and an outdoor animation projection.  In partnership with Little Mekong’s organizing non-profit, the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA), we will enlist restaurants to help distribute custom fortune cookies.  The messages in the cookies will be responses to the question “What is your secret dream?”  We will collect these responses through a variety of methods including custom-made submission boxes at the partner restaurants and through direct outreach at community events like Saint Paul Open Streets.  We will select around 15 of the best messages for the cookies though all appropriate responses will become part of an animation projection displayed on the art deco building across from the AEDA office, projected out their window.

This project represents a merging of the specialities of the collaborators, from the animation/projection experience of Steudel to the design-build expertise of Marx.

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