The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, February 25, 2018

Art gives former station in US capital new lease on life
A woman moves a block of balls at the Underground Recycled Balls Exhibit below Dupont Circle in the former trolley station May 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. A quirky art installation featuring 650,000 plastic balls is breathing new life into a dingy and long-forgotten former underground trolley station in the heart of the US capital. Through June 1, 2016 the expanse below Washington's bustling Dupont Circle is being transformed into a hands-on show where visitors young and old can get creative. Brendan Smialowski / AFP.

by Anne Renaut

WASHINGTON (AFP).- A quirky art installation featuring 650,000 plastic balls is breathing new life into a dingy and long-forgotten former underground trolley station in the heart of the US capital.

Through June 1, the expanse below Washington's bustling Dupont Circle is being transformed into a hands-on show where visitors young and old can get creative. 

"They invite you to build your own thing and to make it interactive," said Holly Joseph, who came in from the suburbs to check it out and leave her mark.

The installation uses white translucent balls from a popular previous one at Washington's National Building Museum. They have been repurposed into bricks of sorts. 

With velcro, visitors can stack the cubes and let their building imaginations run wild. 

The Dupont Underground, a non-profit, launched a competition to transform the venue into "an unexpected experience." 

Some 153 candidates from 19 countries took part, with New York architecture and design studio Hou de Sousa submitting the winning proposal. The studio is a collaboration between Jia Min Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa.

With the tracks exposed as a reminder of years past, Hou de Sousa assembled the bricks in a semi-circle and in huge columns. The public part is located in the open, central area.

The creations -- a large face mounted on a wall, a princely palace, an arch -- are immortalized on smartphones before being destroyed by their creators or other visitors.

"We proposed a reusable system rather than a specific form or design, resulting in a dynamic and direct relationship between creation and destruction," Hou de Sousa said of their "Raise/Raze" concept.

The installation -- put on in partnership with the nearby Phillips Collection modern art museum among others -- conjures up the Minecraft video game and life-size Legos.  

But Dupont Underground's art director Craig Cook prefers a beach analogy.

"It's like the buckets that kids put sand in and then they make shapes," he told AFP.

"The beach" was the theme of last year's installation at the National Building Museum, in which visitors -- including families -- could go plunge into the balls for improvised swims.

Hidden from view
The installation isn't widely publicized, with no address or hours online and the entrance off Dupont Circle resembling a subway station.

That could be because only 49 people are allowed in the space at any given time.

Opened in 1949, the trolley station closed in 1962 when the streetcar system shut down. It has largely been empty since, attracting the homeless in the 1960s and briefly hosting a food court in the mid-1990s.

In late 2014, Dupont Underground signed a five-year lease with the city "to permanently redevelop the entire site as a mixed-use cultural destination."

The organization, in envisioning a future for the space, points to New York's High Line, elevated tracks in the Big Apple that have been transformed into a popular outdoor destination, as an example of the type of urban revitalization it espouses.  

With money tight, visitors are asked to pay an entrance fee.

"We hope to generate enough funding to make a bunch of improvements to this space," Cook said. 

"It means a lot of work. We don't have any plumbing, we don't have any bathrooms, we don't have any doors."

Looking ahead to the fall, Cook hopes to bring smaller music and cinematography installations to the venue. 

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

May 9, 2016

Paul Mellon's most treasured works on paper celebrated in exhibition

Artcurial announces Orientalism, Africanism, Iranian & Arabic Modern Art Sale

Palm Beach Modern to auction 550 curated lots of art, furniture and decorative accessories on May 14

Exceptional works by masters including Tamayo, Botero & Varo to be offered at Sotheby's

A giant of 20th Century Russian art, Vladimir Nemukhin has died at 90

Nature at Home: Huge Stegosaurus skeleton to be sold by Auctionata at REDGALLERY

New series of paintings, drawings, and works in clay by Lorraine Shemesh on view at Gerald Peters Gallery

Artcurial announces sale of Art Deco, including a collection of furniture by Maxime Old

Art gives former station in US capital new lease on life

Exhibition of works by Danish artist Asger Jorn opens at Petzel Gallery

Unpublished sketchbook by British painter Stanley Spencer uncovered by the Hepworth Wakefield

Urs Fischer - False Friends: A selection of the Dakis Joannou Collection in Geneva for the first time

David Zwirner exhibits new sculptural work by American artist Jordan Wolfson

Exhibition of abstract paintings by artist Charley Brown on view at Dolby Chadwick Gallery

Cologne-based artists Gert & Uwe Tobias exhibits at Team (gallery, inc.)

China is winning war of the worlds in giant Paris art show

New Museum presents "Andra Ursuța: Alps," the artist's first New York museum exhibition

Exhibition of works by Thór Vigfússon. on view at i8 Gallery

Pussy Poppin' Power: Judy Ledgerwood's fourth solo exhibition with Tracy Williams Ltd. opens in New York

Exhibition of works by Marley Dawson opens at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney

Exhibition at Klein Sun Gallery reveals the practice and works of China's youngest generation of artists

Von Lintel Gallery opens exhibition of experimental photography by New York artist Chuck Kelton

Statue of Hitler goes for $17.2 million at New York auction

Exhibition launches Modernity X Hungary: A Festival of Hungarian Modernism in New York

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time

2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala

3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet

4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater

5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù

6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online

7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines

8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School

9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion

10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful