And Arlington’s mundane routine will be disrupted by this SUPERNOVA — a glimmering, spacey glob of acidic oddness or, more formally, Rosslyn’s first three-day performance art festival.
So be warned:
Artists are saner than they appear.
Anticipate smells and hold your nose.
Beware the body paint and the Jabberwock, son.
It’s going to be a wild ride.
Or it won’t be.
“No one’s really sure what’s going to happen,” said Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, the primary financial backer of this weekend’s festival. “We wanted to do something out there. We wanted to radically change the old image of Rosslyn.”
And that they will. This 75-artist strong weekend is taking over your parks, your streets, your lobbies, fair Arlington. All attempts to avoid it will be in vain: There will be too many people covered in feathers and mud, too many septuagenarians marching in Sunday’s Grandma Parade. While the Rosslyn BID has done jazz and film festivals before — financed by businesses that opt-in to pay extra tax for projects — SUPERNOVA may be the most alternative art festival thatit has ever tackled.
But you will not see nudity, violence or deeply offensive material, elements sometimes associated with art’s most controversial field. There will be no self-circumcisions, a la Adrian Parsons, the D.C.-based performance artist who, in 2010, famously took a dull Swiss army knife to his anatomy at Warehouse before dashing off to the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital.
“It won’t get that weird,” said Philippa Hughes, the producer of the festival. “But it will be uncomfortable. Performance art is meant to be provocative.”
Still, it’s a big change for a neighborhood that was once a commuter outpost known for its close ties to the military industrial complex. And with $200,000 going into the festival, $150,000 of which is coming from business tax revenue raised by the BID, much is riding on this wild trip.
Players and performers
Hughes pitched performance art along with several more staid ideas when approached by the BID last year. They had heard of her work with the Downtown BID and her riotous dance parties. A former lawyer and founder of the local arts network the Pinkline Project, Hughes always seems to have her pulse on wild happenings in the art world. She hopes the 100-plus performances will be opportunities for social commentary, many on sensitive issues such as age, gender or solitude. Many performance artists address LGBT issues, and Capital Pride coincides with the dates of the festival.