Inside D.C. entertainment

'Face to Face' installs WaPo Carpet

November 9, 2011 - 11:47 AM
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Group image: Participants in the Face to Face international artist exchange (from left to right): Sylvia Nirmaier (Aachen) discusses her work in progress with Linda Maldonado (Arlington), Uta Göbel-Groß (Aachen), and a visitor. (Lisa McCarty).

Dead tree newspapers are still useful for something — at least their bags are. The WaPo Carpet, a piece currently on exhibit at Project 2011: Face to Face at Artisphere is a carpet made from roughly 800 Washington Post newspaper bags.

German-based artist-in-residence Monika Radhoff-Troll, had asked artists in the U.S. to collect newspaper bags for the piece over the course of this year. Radhoff-Troll was one of five German artists who participated in the international artist exchange and residency at Artisphere in early November. Over the course of 10 days, the Germans lived and worked alongside local Arlington-based artists in the second part of a cultural exchange program that began earlier this year, when American artists lived and created works in Aachen, where Radhoff-Troll lives.

“What happens in the studio, [where] it’s an exchange of ideas and an understanding of how the artists work in each situation…and having them be in your home, where you share meals and customs, really underscores the value of cultural exchange,” says Kathy Glennon, a member of Arlington Cultural Affairs, which organized the project in conjunction with Dreiek, a women’s artist collective based in Germany.

Radhoff-Troll decided to create the floor to wall carpet, currently on exhibition, after she’d read about the vast garbage patch scientists had recently discovered in the Atlantic Ocean in the newspaper.

“We as human beings are always leaving plastic in our surroundings,” Radhoff-Troll says. “I recognized that there must be an incredible amount of daily plastic bags just receiving a newspaper in the morning.” The carpet is a representation of civilization, a reflection of how humans are affecting this world, she says.

Neighboring the WaPo Carpet is German artist Sylvia Nirmaier’s interactive installation, Bird’s Eye View. Everyone has a wish, things they desire — regardless of where they’re from, she says. An avid traveler, she started working with maps, which lays the foundation of her piece. From visiting other cultures and speaking with people, she’s taken the most important wishes, written in various languages and included them in her piece. “Wishes [can] influence our life, [the] ways we choose in life,” she says.

Visitors can write their daily wishes on a ticket and place them on the wall of the installation, in hope that one day, they’ll be fulfilled.

The exhibit runs from Nov. 5 to Dec. 11 at Artisphere and features works by: Monika Brenner, Gabriele Maria Corsten, Sylvia Nirmaier, Monika Radhoff-Troll, Mirjana Stein-Arsic, Mary Detweiler, Lisa McCarty, Linda Maldonado and Nan Morrison.

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