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What you said about what we said last week
How much public input should public art have? In last week’s cover story, Christina Cauterucci explored that question in the context of this year’s 5×5, a city-funded exhibition of installations and performance art that turned controversial after two pieces, one not yet constructed and one already installed, were pulled following community objections. “Antediluvian,” a replica of a gas station, was planned for the Anacostia River; “The Great Migration,” an installation of found objects piled high, was located in two storefronts in Ward 8. For many readers, the locations of these pieces were neither coincidental nor surprising.
“What the artist (and this article) miss is that living East of the Anacostia River is already a lesson in people thinking you live in garbage,” wrote Rachel. “I constantly have to defend my neighborhood to strangers…So when we hear ‘Hey, we’re doing these great public art projects” and two of them are literally playing into stereotypes we are trying SO HARD to combat, we obviously get upset.”
Reader R. Holladay gave artist Abigail DeVille the benefit of the doubt for her piece “The Great Migration” but criticized the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for its handling of the situation, writing, “It’s clear from reading this article that the artist’s intent was not to offend but to bring attention to concerns that are shared with the residents of the neighborhood…I think it speaks to a failing on the part of the arts commission to connect the dots…Removing the work implies that it was a mistake, and everyone misses out on what could have been a meaningful conversation…I’m of the mind that once the decision had been made, the job of the commission is to stand by it and defend both curator and artist.”
But on Twitter, @DobromirV found the silver lining: “If something worked with the 5×5 at Anacostia: Never seen so many articles focus on my ’hood in the media.”
Last week, Aaron Wiener explored skepticism now facing the D.C. United stadium deal from the D.C. Council, and in the comments, readers registered their own doubts about the deal.
“It’s outrageous that the team owners and developers want to ram this through when many details are only now becoming public,” wrote reader Dovely. “They say they have been working on it for 10 years—if that’s the case, it was completely in the dark…It’s too much subsidy—in land, tax breaks and money—and this notion of moving a Pepco substation into an area where there is a large low-income housing community (Sorsum Corda) and already a promise to use that land to rebuild units that were torn down—this warrants a lawsuit.”
“As an ardent DCU supporter, I badly want a new stadium for the team, but not at any cost,” wrote Joe W. “I had assumed that any swap would involve other industrial land to place a new substation. Not land so near the downtown core and at the expense of affordable housing in the city, YET AGAIN!”
The stadium deal had its defenders though. “Even with the abatement, DC United will pay twice as much in taxes as any other MLS team,” DoddsDC pointed out. “The reason for the abatements is not to increase the team’s profit but rather to ensure that they can receive the necessary credit to finance the stadium.”
Department of Corrections
Due to a reporting error, “Art Burn” originally stated that LUMEN8 mounted art in some of the same storefronts as “The New Migration.” Those spaces were not used.