John Sawyer and Victor Rortvedt are presenting a project called reDISTRICTing at the 10th Anniversary of Artomatic. Sawyer and Rortvedt use photo overlays of modern DC scenes with black and white Library of Congress images of the same location from another time. Of the project, they say, “We were inspired by the cultural signals sent by the redevelopment of neighborhoods like U Street, Logan Circle and Penn Quarter, and the city-shaping events that have taken place in the past.” The end result they say gives “a sense of the progression of time, the value of preservation and the changing landscape of our city.”
They continue to say: “We were struck both by the integration of historical landscape in some areas, and by the complete wiping away of that history in others. We hope the piece will make people pause and consider just how present our community’s history is all around us – from the legacy of the 1968 riots to Civil Rights marchers at Meridian Hill Park to the streetcars that once shuttled people up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
There are 11 images in total and limited editions of 15 of each image will be sold during the duration of Artomatic.
How do you feel about taking part in the 10th Anniversary of Artomatic? “We’re psyched! One of the best parts of participating in Artomatic is the up-close view you get of the huge amount of organization and collective energy that goes into putting something like this together. It’s a real community event, that puts a side of DC on display that you don’t see every day. We feel like our project fits right into the anniversary vibe, with a juxtaposition of old and new, and a look at how local landmarks and institutions evolve over time.”
“Our images capture a side of DC that gets a little deeper than your average Capitol Dome or Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossom shot. They spark conversations – ‘wait a second, where is that?’ or ‘I know that corner’ – about the living, breathing history of DC that goes beyond the Mall and into the community. Also, the background on our partition wall is really cool! We found some old newspapers in John’s girlfriend’s parents attic – the Washington Evening Star from 1952 – and created a collage of those with the DC flag overlaid. Once you’ve seen the images we’re displaying, you can spend even more time taking in the old newspapers with their ridiculous chauvinist headlines, like ‘Raven-haired Beauty Runs Kefauver Headquarters.’”
Where can we see your work next? “We don’t know, to be honest. Hopefully somewhere before next year’s Artomatic. Any takers?”
You can see reDISTRICTing on the 4th floor, area 6.