Yes, those are ‘monsters’ roaming through the San Diego airport

Feb 19, 2020

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In 2016 there were clowns at the checkpoints. In 2018 it was dancers hanging from the terminal rafters.

Now San Diego International Airport (SAN) has a troop of lumpy, colorful monsters roaming around.

SAN has a robust performing arts program that brings dance, theater, live music and special performances into the terminals.

Since 2016, the airport has also been hosting a Performing Arts Residency Program that invites artists and collectives to use the airport terminals, including the baggage claim areas and security checkpoints, as workshop space to develop, document and perform new work.

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The newest group to be awarded a five-month residency is Beck+Col.

Beck and Collin Stafford make up the Los Angeles-based Beck+Col team that uses costume-based performance to explore what they describe as “alternate universes populated with monsters.”

The group’s performances include theatrical installations, elaborate costumes, wearable sculptures, dance, music and vocalizations.

“Resisting binary and hierarchical classifications, the monsters explore our behaviors in a space of indeterminacy — allowing for rethinking of power structures,” Beck+Col said via email.

Visitors to San Diego's airport can expect to see this troop of lumpy, colorful monsters roaming around the terminal during a five-month 'residence.' (Photo courtesy of Beck+Col)
Visitors to San Diego’s airport can expect to see this troop of lumpy, colorful monsters roaming the terminal during a five-month “residence.” (Photo courtesy of Beck+Col)

During their residency at SAN, Beck+Col are sending their bright, lumpy-looking monsters into the airport. These monsters can only communicate through gestures and vocalizations, so their interactions with passengers are apt to be odd, interesting, memorable, maybe a bit scary, but certainly entertaining.

Previously, six groups, including Fern Street Circus and Astraeus Aerial Dance Theatre, have been in residence at the airport.

Passengers “have now come to expect the unexpected at this airport, in terms of arts and culture,” said Chris Chalupsky, senior manager of the arts program at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. “That’s really what the trend is in the larger arts field too – bringing enriching experiences to people in nontraditional venues and ways.”

Beck+Col should fit right in. “We think art is for everyone, so we jump at the opportunity to perform for an audience that is not necessarily a part of the small art world,” the duo said via email.

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The five-month artist residencies at SAN airport are certainly nontraditional. They also create a great win-win for artists, the airport and the community: Performers get stipends, project funding and a unique space to create new work, while travelers encounter performing art in an unexpected place.

San Diego International isn’t the only airport to have a regular arts residency program. Similar programs have been set up at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport and Brisbane Airport in Australia, and other airports are exploring the concept.

'Monsters,' like the ones seen here in this performance, will roam baggage-claim areas and security checkpoints during a five-month residence at San Diego's airport. (Photo courtesy of Beck+Col)
Monsters, like the ones seen here, will roam baggage-claim areas and security checkpoints during a five-month residency at San Diego’s airport. (Photo courtesy of Beck+Col)

Featured image courtesy of Beck+Col.


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