Mu­seum re­opens to host pop-up

Arts groups to de­scend on long-closed Mall site

The Washington Post - - STYLE - BY PEGGY MCGLONE

Some 40 artists and arts groups will ex­plore race, gen­der, im­mi­gra­tion and other “lay­ers of iden­tity” at a pop-up art show this week­end that will bring the Smith­so­nian Arts and In­dus­tries Build­ing to life for the first time in more the decade. “CrossLines: A Cul­ture Lab on In­ter­sec­tion­al­ity” fea­tures artists of mul­ti­ple eth­nic­i­ties and her­itages work­ing in a va­ri­ety of me­dia, cu­ra­tor Adriel Luis ex­plained.

“Mu­se­ums are known as places that seg­ment,” Luis said. “This is about cross­ing lines be­tween dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties and dif­fer­ent forms of art.”

And the his­toric Arts and In­dus­tries Build­ing — the sec­on­dold­est Smith­so­nian struc­ture and the first built to dis­play its col­lec­tions — is an in­spi­ra­tion. The build­ing on the Mall is show­ing its age: The dec­o­ra­tive paint­ing over its arches is chipped, the floors are dis­tressed and white plas­ter walls are scarred with cracks. But the in­te­rior is breath­tak­ingly vast and open, thanks to soar­ing ceil­ings and sky­lights.

“The build­ing opened in 1881 with a grand vi­sion of Amer­ica, to un­veil in­no­va­tive ideas of the day,” Luis said. “Our so­ci­ety has trans­formed in so many ways since then, and we’re think­ing about how Amer­ica looks now and what innovation looks like.”

Spon­sored by the Smith­so­nian Asian Pa­cific Amer­i­can Cen­ter, the cul­ture lab is free and will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Satur­day and Sun­day. It will fea­ture po­etry read­ings, mu­si­cal per­for­mances, work­shops and art in­stal­la­tions.

“We’re not just ask­ing (the artists) to talk specif­i­cally about race or specif­i­cally about gen­der, but about the ways we iden­tify as a com­mu­nity and with each other,” Luis said.

Annu Palakun­nathu Matthew has cre­ated an in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tion called “The Vir­tual Im­mi­grant” that looks at the ex­pe­ri­ences of In­dian call-cen­ter work­ers who Amer­i­can­ize their names and voices dur­ing the work­day.

“It gets peo­ple to think about the iden­tity of im­mi­grants, and the glob­al­iza­tion of so­ci­ety,” Matthew said.

The web­site Nerds of Color will be do­ing pod­cast in­ter­views, #Mu­se­um­sre­spondtofer­gu­son will host “Mu­se­ums and Race 101” and Wooden Wave, the duo of Matt and Rox­anne Or­tiz from Hawaii, have a prime spot at the build­ing’s north­ern en­trance, where they are cre­at­ing a mu­ral with vis­i­tor in­put. “It’s like a crash course in how you will in­ter­act with every­thing else,” Luis said.

The Arts and In­dus­tries Build­ing closed in 2004 for a $55 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion. A con­gres­sional bill des­ig­nat­ing it as the site for a pro­posed Latino mu­seum has lan­guished for years, and the Smith­so­nian’s 20-year plan to re­make the area around it of­fers no clues to its fu­ture. It was the set­ting for the in­stal­la­tion cer­e­mony of Smith­so­nian Sec­re­tary David J. Sko­r­ton in Oc­to­ber, and start­ing next month, it will host the mar­ket­place as­so­ci­ated with the Smith­so­nian Folk­life Fes­ti­val.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Tracy Keza puts up a col­lab­o­ra­tive ex­hibit, “Hi­jabs and Hood­ies,” for the “CrossLines” arts show Satur­day and Sun­day.


Artist Kyle Goen works on a mu­ral that’s part of the work “Mu­ral Ngatu Man­dala” at the Smith­so­nian Arts and In­dus­tries Build­ing.

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