Client: Burke Family Collection/Wisconsin Center District
Location: Milwaukee, WI, United States
Completion date: 1998
We are in the southwest corner of Milwaukee’s Baird Center. Push the button, hop on the polkalator, then watch 30 pictures of a polka dance at its crazy best go by, all the while listening to one of 200 randomly selected polka tunes, as you dance your way to your destination.
Aside from enough framed photos to fill the space, POLKA TIME! needs an escalator, a wall, a built-in button-activated sound system, a computer, and a space to house same.
This project was conceived as a very rich and joyous participatory experience. My idea was to see if I could get people to look at art and to dance at the same time. It was also a primary goal of the project to interact with the space in which it was installed. This piece is both a communal event and also a sculpture. As a move in art, it provides us with a new meaning when we think of "moving pictures."
I worked closely with everyone from the music curator to the programmer, to the staff of the Convention Center to make this a success.
This project was instantly popular...and continues to be so to this day. I have recently expanded the soundtrack, this with the help of a scholar/dj specializing in the form. There are now 200, randomly chosen, at the push of the button.