Their barn-raising may have been shut down, but Occupy DC may soon be erecting another structure: a cluster of art galleries. Vestibule, a local art collective, is raising money for “mobile exhibition modules” to host the work of artists, who address social change, in spots throughout the city. Some of the work will be made out of signs and banners from the Occupy camp in McPherson Square.
The 15 mobile galleries, designed by artist and architect Evan Howell, will be made out of wood, wire mesh and plastic sheeting, designed to emulate the DIY feel of the Occupy camp. They’re also temporary structures, designed to follow the National Park Service rules. When placed in a cluster and viewed from above, the hexagonal exhibition pods will look like a honeycomb. Viewed individually from above, they resemble the Mercedes-Benz logo, an irony noted by Adrian Parsons, a performance artist who helped plan the exhibit.
“This is the perfect 99 percent structure,” says Parsons. “It’s strong by itself, but comes together to make a majority.”
Vestibule, which is run by Josef Palermo and Joseph Orzal, was recently awarded a grant from the Awesome Foundation to cover much of the cost of construction, after an online donation site was slow to gain support. The gallery’s work will be populated by Occupiers who live and create work in the camp. Some will turn their signs and banners into art. Construction on the galleries will begin this weekend, and a debut is planned for the end of the year.
“Josef had the brilliant idea that the structure should move from Occupy to other spaces ... Maybe [we’ll] set it up in front of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” said Parsons. “It could be very site specific... It’s like having a mini-Occupation throughout the city.”
Several other cities have hosted art exhibitions in support of Occupy, but this is the first major art response in D.C. The largest of these was in New York, a show called “No Comment,” which took place in the former J.P. Morgan building across from the New York Stock Exchange in October. Among the exhibit’s controversial works was an American flag made of real currency, which artists and protesters set on fire.
Though Parsons is a full-time artist, he won’t be contributing his own work to the galleries anytime soon. He’s one of the D.C. hunger strikers, consuming only water and potassium supplements for the last eight days. He has lost 10 pounds so far. Parsons says he doesn’t consider the hunger strike to be a part of his performance art, but rather, a protest action.
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