An Art Happening in Mid-Michigan: The Saginaw Yacht Club

Reviewer: Benjamin Champagne

Venue: Your Very Own Imagination

Picture taken from saginawyachtclub.org May 14th Daily Log post


It may be raining elsewhere in town, but here at the yacht club we enjoy sunshine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from 3-5pm, everyday.

The Saginaw Yacht Club is a…. well, let’s not try to put it in a box. A happening? Sure. A community project? Yeah, kinda. Art? Most definitely. Wait, is this… is it… performance art? ::Hesitantly:: yuh. In Saginaw, MI? A happening? Welllllll I guess you could say that, but it’s a whole lot of stuff.

Alexander ‘cbxtn’ Verdoni the Fig is staging a time-based art piece right here in Saginaw, MI. Everyday from 3-5pm, down by the Saginaw River, he ponders the possibilities inherent in life. Most days you can find him near the smokestack that was part of an old foundry. This is behind the cardiovascular center on Washington. He has dubbed the project and the entire Potthof public park as The Saginaw Yacht Club.

This project is for fans of Yoko Ono, George Brecht, D.A. Levy, Marcel Duchamp, Dada, The Fluxus Movement, John Cage…

Wait, no it isn’t.

This project is also for geese, for all the litter and micro-plastics that need to be cleaned up, for confused people looking out the window of a brand new building at a river they are told they should never swim in. Really, it’s for fisherman, for joggers, for people who enjoy parks.

This project is loosely inspired by Alison Knowles’ Identical Lunch, in which she ate the same food at the same time each day: “a tuna fish sandwich on wheat toast, with lettuce and butter, no mayo and a cup of soup or a glass of buttermilk.” For many years, the meal was at the Riss Diner, now a noodle shop, in Chelsea, Manhattan where she lived. Right here in Saginaw, we have a happening of similar spirit and magnitude.

“I think our riverfront parks are under appreciated,” commented Fig, “and so, like Knowles’ Identical Lunch, I wanted to show up at the same time at the same place and catalog what happens. Maybe people would play along in this make believe yacht club. Maybe my daily appearance could draw more attention to how we use public spaces. Henri Lefebvre, a mid-century marxist philosopher, wrote a lot of critique about how public spaces are constructed with a capitalist sense of utility. When a city builds a bridge, it is seen and used as a bridge. But why? Why can’t bridges also be opera houses or town hall meeting spots? Let’s not limit our ideas of how a space functions merely by the eyes of real estate developers and droning civic bureaucrats. The Saginaw Yacht Club is, in part, a call to expand the way we engage with public spaces.”

The Saginaw Yacht Club has many goals wrapped in the simple premise of showing up at the same time and place each day, and each person who drops by will take away a different meaning. With the slowing down of the worker’s hustle due to the quarantine, we now have time to play Socrates and ask ourselves, “What is the good life?” The Saginaw Yacht Club explores that question. Fig is adamant that the “good life” does not require the accumulation of things; the “good life” requires only a community founded on cooperation and imaginative play.

This quote is lifted directly from saginawyachtclub.org:

We, at the Saginaw Yacht Club, believe that imagination is one of the most valuable assets to a human existence. Without it, life is rather bleak, violent, and monotonous. Because things themselves will never make us happy, we have cut out the middleman and now trade, share, barter, and fund projects explicitly in imaginaries.

By using an imaginal-standard currency, you can now enjoy the luxuries of a yacht with nothing more than a floating log, an opera house with nothing more than a concrete overpass, and golden sand beaches with only a shore of broken glass.

By taking ownership of public land, we realize how much of the world requires the need to share. The germ that is so easily passed right now demonstrates that we are all in this together. This response we’ve had to the germ should also influence the way we approach recycling, litter, the environment, the self, our minds, how we treat others, our personal goals. . . By looking out over the public park and saying (with an ironic nasally accent), “Ahhh yes, a wonderful day to sail the yacht,” we allow ourselves to see the priceless wealth of a community dedicated to cooperation.

Fig sits down under a tree from 3-5pm every day. Sometimes it rains. Guess what—he’s there. Sunshine? Always. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from 3-5pm, he’s there engaging in the imagination. In thought experiments, spiritual games, those things which enrich humanity. And anyone is welcome to join!

Yes, everyone in the world, the whole entire world is an exclusive member of The Saginaw Yacht Club. There is no barrier to access. In fact, if you don’t show up at the river, you can still use your imagination. Imagine the rolling hills of your personal golf course. Hear an aria of a beautiful Italian woman resonate in your bones. See the remains of a catfish being absorbed back into the dirt and the earth.

For more information follow the Daily Log at saginawyachtclub.org or follow on twitter @saginawyacht. But the best thing you can possibly do is go down and see for yourself. The project has been going on for the better part of a month now and will continue at least until fall. You’ve been to theatre, concerts and films. Perhaps you’re adventurous and have attended a poetry slam, but have you ever been to a happening?

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