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Creativity brewing. (Lydia DePillis)

There’s construction activity at 3212 Georgia Avenue, where a storefront has recently been lettered “District Modular.” What’s District Modular? The landlord pointed me towards artist Joseph Hale, who’s working on the concept with Graham Childs. Hale explained the project, and I’ll just let him do the talking:

Our goal as District Modular is to create art-gestures throughout DC, with installation and experimental media as a focus, in an effort to join/complicate/carry-on the cultural conversation at a local level. We are in the process of inviting other artists to join for one or more projects, in which we would act as facilitators—lending technical support and ideas. We hope that we can accomplish more ambitious projects as a group towards a focused goal than we could as isolated artists.

…DC is an expensive city and very hard to find space in, but if we work in conjunction with developers and others who are interested in drawing attention to their projects, we may be able to overlap our interests. This is nothing new. It is essentially what “Artomatic” and other groups have been doing ever since broke artists met desperate developers, but what is new is the way we want to use this opportunity. We do not want to throw impromptu group shows in otherwise inappropriate spaces. We want to work as a group towards one ambitious piece that reacts to a specific location using all of the tools in the contemporary artists tool bag.
In a city with plenty of spaces and an industrial history (like Baltimore), artists can simply collect where space is cheap and practical and form a neighborhood or a traditional artist’s district, but in D.C. artists have to be clever in a different way to make space for their work, and usually have to sacrifice being near other artists. Mera Rubell noted in her recent tour of DC artists studios “I’ve never seen such isolation and loneliness.”, and it’s true. One possible solution is being more flexible about how we imagine a “district” of activity—what if it could be “modular“?—mobile, flexible, and able to take advantage of temporary, isolated opportunities? How can we use our collective abilities, assembling them into something larger?

Our current project with [landlord Charles Lyons] is essentially an up-ended and disorienting living room space that faces the street through the storefront window. It is an extension of work Graham Childs has shown with Transformer and Meat Market.