Well, thank goodness the Capitol Hill shooting ended safely for most people besides that strange driver, and for art lovers, the (e)merge art fair opened at the Capitol Skyline Hotel as planned. And WOW, y’all gotta get over there, if nothing else than just for the spectacle.
(e)merge, founded by Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith of the fabulous ConnerSmith gallery in Northeast, has literally emerged as a fair not just for cutting-edge contemporary art that draws national and international gallerists, but also as a huge stage for performance art.
This year, we were greeted by one of DC’s best know performance artists, Andrew Wodzianski. Last year, he floated on a coffin at the hotel’s pool for 36 hours. This year, he’s at a desk in the lobby, typing on an old-time typewriter, playing out the obsession of The Shining‘s Jack Torrance. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” he types over and over. He’ll be there typing throughout the weekend.
I walked out to the pool, where I saw what I thought was simply an art installation:
Turns out that a couple of artists from Asheville, NC are LIVING out of the cart during the show. The bowl holds recycled gray water for washing, while the jugs on the left are filled with fresh water from the hotel. Chelsea Ragan and Adam Void, who live off the grid in North Carolina, assured me that they DO use the hotel’s restroom facilities. Their message, “freedom is not for sale,” is meant to intone that homeless people and those who live off the grid, not bound to the expensive “necessities” of daily life, have the ultimate freedom—it’s meant to contradict messages of war that say “freedom is not free.”
Here they are. Adam refuses to be photographed: “I only have one public photo out there, and I regret it deeply,” he said. Too bad, because he’s pretty good looking!
Another favorite: Daniel Wilson, who obtained a New York taxi license and drove the city’s streets on the 5 pm – 5 am shift for one month, secretly recording the conversations of his passengers.
So, you get in the car, and the only thing you see is the screen in front, so you really feel like you’re driving through New York. And you’re hearing the conversations of those passengers—not all of them in English. Weird and cool. Loved that.
Elsewhere in the parking garage (yes the parking garage, an exhibit area not to be missed), people are invited to lounge on a bed and read passages from the Constitution to each other:
And then there was a performance meant to illuminate “the ritualization of self portraiture,” according to the program. FASCINATING.
The bulk of the galleries live on the hotel’s second floor—the show features 80 exhibitors from 30 countries. I loved seeing the charming Victoria Reis from Transformer here in DC, and her gallery featured a bit of its own performance art. This is what you see when you walk in:
Playing off the typical set up of large-scale art, which hangs from the ceiling or wall with weights or ballast on the other side to keep it up, you have a series of artists holding the weight up.
Here, writer Hannah Spector sits on the other side:
Here are some more of my favorite things that I spotted as I walked up and down the hallway.
Self Portraits, from the British artist Ultra Violet:
Simon Monk‘s excellent super-hero series:
Local artist Sonya Lawyer‘s collages of old photos of African Americans, which she’s arranged with her own narratives attached to them:
Keiko Genka‘s cool street-life series:
And Stephen Palmer’s realist “We’re out of time,” which I love, having grown up with Gulden’s on my ham sandwiches:
This is only the tiniest sampling of the art on display. With this beautiful weather, you HAVE to go this weekend, to get a taste of the incredible (and incredibly wacky) talents of emerging artists from around the world, right here in our city. Enjoy!