Amy Lipton curator for ecoartspace NY has been busy working on BiodiverCITY, her curatorial public art project for 5 x 5 in Washington D.C. opening on March 24th. Hosted by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, 5 x 5 includes five international curators who have each selected five artists to participate. The 25 temporary public art projects will encompass all 8 wards of D.C. and the stated goal of the project is to activate and enliven publicly accessible spaces and add an ephemeral layer of creativity and artistic expression to neighborhoods across the District. The 5 x 5 will be presented in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, one million plus people are expected to take part in the nation’s greatest springtime celebration.
March 2012 marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. The cherry blossoms are a symbol in Japanese culture that indicates rebirth. The Festival commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC.
Amy has chosen to work with five artists whose focus is on biodiversity both in scientific and cultural terms. Biodiversity refers to the wide variety of ecosystems and living organisms including humans, animals, plants, their habitats and their genes which all contribute to life on Earth. These five artists all take a participatory approach and intend for their projects to engage, inspire and raise awareness about various issues related to the natural environment in the urban setting of Washington D.C. The common goal of these works is to connect people and communities aesthetically by bringing attention to the sometimes hidden relationships between city dwellers, urban nature, human and non human life forms.
If we wiped out insects alone the rest of life and humanity with it would disappear in a few months - E.O. Wilson, biologist and author of BioDiversity
Tattfoo Tan will create p:ARK, (March 24 - July 20) a large-scale, walkable labyrinth in an open grass field at Yard’s Park along the Anacostia riverfront. The field will be planted with weeds, grasses and whatever volunteer plants grow and left unmowed. Just before the 5 x 5 opening the field will be mowed into a labyrinth pattern. Visitors to the site can walk into this path and consider the differences and relationships between public space, cultivated lawns and weeds. Tattfoo wants his audience to understand that we are all part of nature and migration (including weeds and invasive plants) is a natural process that will continue regardless of the changing positions on immigration. In this way his art hopes to inspire thinking about ways we can all live together in a world that is getting smaller as population increases and people move around globally.
The term weed in its general sense is a subjective one, without any classification value, since a "weed" is not a weed when growing where it belongs or is wanted. Indeed, a number of "weeds" have been used in gardens or other cultivated-plant settings. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weed
Tattfoo received a 2010 “Annual Awards for Exellence in Design”, Public Design Commission of the City of New York, for the Rehabilitation of the Bronx River Art Center. He received a public art commission from Percent for the Arts and New York School Construction Authority at PS 971, Brooklyn, New York for his permanent wall installation “SOS (Sustainable Organic Steward) Pledge” in 2010. Tattfoo’s work has been shown by various institutions including; The Queens Museum of Art, The City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Fashion Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute and Project Row Houses, Houston, TX. Tattfoo received a Proclamation Award from City Council, The City of New York for his for his effort, service and artistic contribution to the community.
Let’s change our aesthetic of what is beauty and stop trying to tame nature by poisoning it. Ultimately, we are slowly killing ourselves in the name of cohesiveness, dare to be different and embrace diversity. - Tattfoo Tan
Natalie Jeremijenko will suspend her work, B Bridge (March 25 - July 25) to help butterflies cross obstacles in a busy urban street location. The B Bridge project creates a quiet spectacle that facilitates the lifestyle and environmental services of these beautiful and popular urban cohabitants and demonstrates how we might re-imagine our infrastructure to account for the diverse nonhumans with whom we share territorial resources. Butterflies will bounce along the bridge which makes use of enticing flowering vegetation to safely guide them over a heavily trafficked intersection in order to connect to fragments of habitat. The presence of different species of butterflies and moths is vital to maintain and preserve the biodiversity in urban areas. They represent a significant proportion of pollinators, thus maintaining the diversity chain and gene transfer between plant species.
Urban contexts, surprisingly, are islands of biodiversity -- or as we like to spell it: biodiverCITY. This characteristic of our urban systems is perhaps the most critical in producing a healthy and resilient urban future that is robust to climate destabilization and ecological transformations. - Natalie Jeremijenko
Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering. Jeremijenko’s projects which explore socio-technical change have been exhibited by several museums and galleries, including MASSMoCA, The Whitney Museum and Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt. A 1999 Rockefeller Fellow, she was recently named one of the 40 most influential designers by I.D. Magazine. Jeremijenko is the director of the environmental health clinic at NYU, Assistant Professor in Art, and is affiliated with the Computer Science Dept.
Embracing the international status of Washington, DC as the capital of the United States, Chrysanne Stathacos will present a public art project titled Natural Wishing (March 20- July 20) to enable participants to connect with “wishing actions” from around the world. The viewing public will be able to take a journey using their own cell phone while riding a city bus or by tying a wish to a tree at various locations throughout DC. Printed wishes will be available to be hung on trees or kept, in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Some of the included trees in this project can be seen at: The Textile Museum, Sasha Bruce, and The Hill Center/ Old Navy Hospital. One can participate in this project by leaving a wish by voice or text, accessed by mobile phone to a QR code or phone number seen on printed posters. Over 200 of these posters will be installed on DC Metro buses from March 20 - April 30th.
Wishing rituals are personal performances; blowing, throwing, speaking, drinking, singing, holding, to name a few. In today’s challenging landscape, one finds the need for hope and wishing as fundamental in order to create a better world . People’s need for hope cannot be underestimated, as often hope provides us a deeper understanding of our mutual interdependence, and results in our world flourishing . - Chrysanne Stathacos
Toronto and NYC based Chrysanne Stathacos’ interdisciplinary art practice draws on photography, printmaking, book-works, video, installation, public art, and participatory interaction. She aims to make new connections between cultures, historical periods, technologies, and environmental issues, which mirror the human processes of change, hope, healing and mortality. Stathacos has exhibited her work extensively in museums, galleries, sculpture gardens, and public spaces internationally including The Wish Machine, presented by Creative Time in Grand Central Station, New York City. She received a 2001 award from the Japan Foundation, for The Wish Machine project, which enabled her to do creative research in India and Japan for six months.
Love Motels for Insects (March 24 - June 10) is an outdoor light installation by Brandon Ballengée for the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. The Love Motel uses ultra-violet lights on enormous blank fabric to attract insects and creates an opportunity for public interactions with nocturnal arthropods, which are not often seen. The sculpture is fabricated in the form of giant dragonfly wings and is intended to construct situations between humans and non-human life-forms. Versions of Ballengée’s black-light sculptures and public nocturnal field-trips have taken place in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. At each location the arthropods leave traces and create abstract pheromone paintings on the fabric surface.
Exploring the boundaries between art, science and technology, Brandon Ballengée creates multidisciplinary works out of information generated from ecological field trips and laboratory research. Ballengée has collaborated with scientists, members of the public and students to conduct environmental research and ecological artworks. His transdisciplinary works involve collaboration with participants from diverse age, economic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. His artworks have been exhibited in museums, galleries, sculpture parks and public spaces in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas. He currently is finalizing his Ph.D. through a collaborative program between the University of Plymouth, England and Hochschule für Gestaltung in Zürich, Switzerland. He is a Professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Working and communicating with diverse groups is vital to the creative process. It allows the works to function as site-specific- not only in geographic terms, but also culturally. This intellectual exchange also permits the work to grow in novel directions guided by group ideas instead of a solitary artist's hand -- like organisms evolving to changing environmental stimuli.
Habitat For Artists is a collective project that uses the idea of the artist’s studio as a catalyst for mutual engagement between artists and communities. The “habitats” are small, temporary, 6 by 6 foot art studios installed at a variety of locations. HFA invites local and member artists for periods of residency to work in these small studios. The studios are made from recycled and reclaimed material and are reused for each new iteration of the project. From March 20 - April 27th, HFA at THEARC in D.C.’s 8th Ward will invite D.C. artists and local youth, after school programs and community groups to participate on weekly projects both inside and outside the studio to explore creative expression in a collaborative setting with a changing member of the HFA team each week including artists Simon Draper, Matthew Slaats (Freespace), Chere Krakovsky, Todd Sargood, Michael Natiello, Michael Asbill, and Jessica Poser. An exhibition of works created throughout the HFA residency will be exhibited at the end of April at THEARC's Corcoran Gallery through the Corcoran Art Reach program.
These intimate work spaces not only ask artists working in them to explore their creative needs, BUT also act as a metaphor for our OWN domestic needs. How might we be more creative about our consumption of materials, our use of energy and land? Could we be doing more with less, yet still create a vibrant, relevant society and culture? - Simon Draper, founder of Habitat for Artists.
The four other selected curators for 5 x 5 are: Richard Hollinshead, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK; Laura Roulet, Washington, DC; Justine Topfer; San Francisco, CA and Steve Rowell, Culver City, CA
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WEBSITE: dcarts.dc.gov nationalcherryblossomfestival.org