Public art arrives in DC with the September unveiling of this year’s 5x5 Project.
The Cherry Blossom Cloud by Charles Juhasz-Alvarado was a temporary sound sculpture for the 2012 edition of the 5x5 Project.
A prodigious public art installation will pop up throughout the city in September—on the streets, in the parks, and in unexpected places. And that’s the point—to surprise DC residents and visitors as they go about their day-today lives. The 25 temporary sculptures are designed to make us stop and see our surroundings from an altered, artistic, and sometimes provocative perspective. The 5x5 Project, organized by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, will provide a platform for five internationally recognized curators to stage contemporary art interventions throughout all four quadrants and eight wards of DC. Each curator has selected five artists to present site-specific works that explore a principal idea—all relating to the rich history, diverse cultures, and physical landscapes of DC.
Launched in 2012, 5x5 returns for its second iteration, and DCCAH enlisted curators Lance Fung, Shamim M. Momin, Stephanie Sherman, Justine Topfer, and A.M. Weaver to respond to DC as an assembly of small communities. DCCAH Executive Director Lionell Thomas says, “5x5 certainly highlights the city as a world-class cultural destination, though this project also involves the community in that it takes art out into the neighborhood… allowing the community to be a part of the creative process.”
One such installation will take over an empty lot close to the Southwest Waterfront, where curator Lance Fung will construct “Nonuments,” a largescale sculpture park. As chief curator of Fung Collaboratives, a group that organizes art exhibitions worldwide, Fung’s first DC project is dedicated to the “ordinary people, the ideals of democracy, and to the common struggles of humanity,” he says, “addressing themes of human trafficking, global warming, and immigration. This piece is about recognizing the everyday hardship of life and the ability of Washingtonians not only to survive but to flourish.”
In less off-the-beaten-path locations, such as the I-295 corridor, curator A.M. Weaver will tackle social typecasts by asking spectators to question negative images of African-American males. “Ceremonies of Dark Men” will show 30-by-10-feet photographs with corresponding poetry captions. Weaver tapped Larry Cook, a local artist and professor of photography at George Washington University, for a piece from “Regalia”—his recent series of portraits of young black men posing in postdoctorate robes. Cook’s pictures are intended to combat persistent stereotypes by putting forth inspiring images of the black male. His photograph Regalia 2 will be installed near 14th and U streets NW, an intersection steeped in historical significance.
Curator Justine Topfer’s exhibition “(home)land” studies the cross-cultural nomadic lifestyle prevalent today. “The show grapples with the relationship between self and place in a world of transitory identities and contested geographies,” she says. “Within the context of America’s political homeland, DC, this exhibition excavates the idea of a ‘homeland’—no longer simply one’s native land, but rather a plurality of associations and ideas of belonging, alienation, histories, and memories.” 5x5 opens September 6 and will be on view through late December