Tweet-Size Delayed Coverage of 5x5 Project Panel At The Corcoran

The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities is organizing the 5x5 Project, a temporary public art festival? exhibition? program? that coincides with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Last night at a panel discussion at the Corcoran, the DCCAH Project Manager and 5x5's five curators talked about their 25 artist projects. [The curators: Amy Lipton (NY), Justine Topfer (SF), Richard Hollinshead (UK), Laura Roulet (DC), and Steve Rowell (LA)]

Doing any justice to coverage of this whirlwind would just mean cutting and pasting at least 5x5+5 lists and press releases and artist statements, plus all the links and facebook and twitter handles. Instead, here are my 140-char or so-sized notes. Consider it tweet-delayed coverage:

Laura Roulet, "The Local One"

Floating Lab Collective, converted taco truck

Activate participatory, interactive community

Sue Spaid [moderator, dir. Balto Contemp Mus] initiates 1-sentence rule on intros, which only lasts for Topfer.

SS cites Wash Mon, Linc & Jeff Mems as DC's mode of public art. Maybe one end of the spectrum, also what've we done lately?

Oh yeah, that's right: WWII Memorial, MLK Mess. oy.

Dynamic ephemeral activate contrast monumental

"I think we are all anti-monumentalists" got immediate pushback. So I think not.

Steve Rowell, CLUI not in intro. Stratman/Badget's pontoon Pentagon, floating protest temporary monument

"my artists" the next most common phrase after "activate space"

Amy Lipton: eco something. "impact native species" as a bullet point

participatory engage

posters on city buses to call a number, leave a wish.

Entertains intimidates

QR codes [?!] on 1,000 vials of Japanese water. Except for the cherry tree-shaped sound sculpture, the only NCBF-linked project

Lize [Mogel] cartographic, maps in libraries. Rowell's projects feel very CLUI'd into DC.

Some other folks very frank about never visiting b4, their artists responding to the idea of DC.

"we're mythmakers, not monument builders," a ref to the temporary project mode vs std DC memorializing

5x5 Festival [?] offering a new way forward.

DCCAH ID'd 40 potential sites over 2 yrs, took 10 curator finalists on daylong busride. hazing-as-winnowing

"this spot of grass, this spot of grass," "got more & more depressing as we drove around."

Net: not one pre-selected spot was used. DCCAH did all site nego, permitting, etc. curators: 5x$100k for everything else.

"tried to avoid federal entities" bec of "compressed time frame." literally 3mos from finalists selection to opening. kind of nuts, imho

Censored? "only by budget" "censored by silence". Rowell: FBI forced Charles Stankievech s/w radio proj off Pk Svc site by not responding to NPS' proposed "interpretive text"

Permitting as power, as project. Hollingshead cites Christo, Wrapped Reichstag, 30 yr nego

"Logistics is the future of art," Spaid, who seems kind of Balto in her provocative-then-dialed-back statements.

Experiments, "you don't like it? Fine, it's gone in six weeks." "you have an out by being temporary." [Temporary as a mode of power? Or a sign of powerlessness?]

There are no politicos here. Nor students, just the artists, everhopeful DC art crowd, or at least the ones who "made it through traffic" and "could find parking" ahem

Rowell on public art censorship: some Mennonite artist's swords-into-plowshares permanent public sculpture literally disappeared, found in the dump, no one knows how/what/who? What? This sounds insane. Forensic Archive

Hollingshead, British guy: there were 2 local curators in the final 10, and 2 intl ones. "I knew it was going to be him [the guy from Germany] or me."

Audience Q&A: some curators seemed surprised that the budget had to be increased from $50k/ea to $100k. Still found it very difficult to execute 5 projects, went with artists they'd all worked with before, who they knew could do *something*

"Double puffing"? like double dipping? where you take artist fees AND curators fees. Hollingshead to Rowell: "Do any of your artists actually exist?"

5x5x2: the recommendation is to do it biennially, not annually.

"the NYT already wrote about it!" Carol Vogel. Spaid: "That was a PREVIEW, they'll HAVE to cover it again." Heroes in Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK funding a catalogue & follow-on exhib at home. Front pg of Guardian. Spaid "The art magazines will all be here [for the preview]"

Ah here it is, the obligatory Why not focus on DC artists? We deserve an international forum question. "17% are local," "Lize worked with local cartographers." hm. Spaid: In Baltimore, I try to help the good artists get out of Baltimore.

"not as a stunt, but for real" [I forget what this was in rel to, but it doesn't really matter]

LR: "the public [in public art] is people"

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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