Political Street Art In The Nation’s Capital

on March 15, 2013

Hirshhorn Black Box

If you’re lucky, you may see Democracia driving in their stretched Hummer, one side of the vehicle emblazoned with ‘Eat the Rich’, the other side declaring ‘Kill the Poor’. It’s how these guerrilla artists roll.

Now they’re rolling into D.C.

Scheduled at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden until May 19, 2013, this Madrid-based artist collective is known for their socio-political art projects, many of which involve public engagement performances. This is somewhat the case for the Hirshhorn’s Black Box exhibit.

Democracia has teamed with a group of parkour street artists (you know, those guys who jump from building to building with skilled abandon. Think Spiderman without webs and CGI). The exhibition, dubbed Ser y Durar (To Be and To Last), is a three-channel video exhibit that focuses on these rebel acrobats, but with a typical Democracia twist. The performers are wearing messages like “Love, freedom, and Socialism”; “Freedom and reason will make you stronger”; “After death there is nothing”; and “To be and to last”; the Black Box gallery describes the exhibit as connecting those resting in peace to the bodies in motion.

In December 2012, the Spanish artists gave a talk at Hirshhorn about this particular exhibit. They say the met in 1989 during while at university and their group is funded in part by Spain’s government.

“We started as four, now we’re two. In a couple of years we’ll probably be one or no one,”said Pablo España, joined onstage by art partner Iván López at the exhibit lecture.

On its website, Democracia describes their art:

“The fact of working in a group in itself establishes an interest in intervening in the social sphere, by means of ideas of Commitment to the real. The projects reflect a concern with the progressive setting of scenes of social life, visible in the increasing importance of the image, and in the gradual incorporation. Also of the simulacrum in the different realms of daily life, such as politics, technology, and culture.”

The Hirshhorn initiated the Black Box series in 2005 to give a platform to cutting-edge moving image artists like Democracia. The curator has strived to bring an international flavour with artists from the likes of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Malaysia, and Brazil.

“Museum exhibitions typically involve years of planning, but Black Box is our quick-response venue, offering the latest from the international smorgasbord of strong new media work,” says associate curator Kelly Gordon in a statement about the Black Box.

The Hirshhorn is located on the National Mall at the corner of 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW. The closest Metro station is L’Enfant Plaza (Green, Yellow, Orange, and Blue lines).

Admission to the museum is free of charge.

  • luvchef

    This carving was from the 2012 icefest not the 2013 i know i cared it.

  • Peter Mykusz

    Wonderful ice sculptures at Icefest 2013: https://vimeo.com/60954837