One of the most superb features of living in the Washington DC area is the museums. The Smithsonian Institution is one of the great centers of learning of our time, and admission is free! It’s always a shock to go to another city and discover that you cannot just pop into the Met or OMSI.
You cannot see all the Smithsonian museums, not in a day or a week or even a month. (A year would be about right, if you can devote 363 days to it running. The museums close for Christmas and New Years Day.) I am close enough to just visit one at a time, and today we went to the Hirschhorn, a collection of modern art. If you have ever been to the Mall in DC it’s the museum that’s cylindrical.
And this cylindrical quality is superbly exploited by artist Linn Meyers and her installation Our View From Here. It takes up the entire inner circular gallery on the second floor, so you can walk right around the building taking it in. It is nothing but lines, drawn with black marker, on the inside wall, an expanse of over 400 feet. The work is lit by the continuous windows that line the inside of the museum’s doughnut hole.
And it’s hypnotic. The lines form shapes, waves, wings, curves. They swoop close together to create dark areas and spread out, thin and grayer. The gaps necessitated by things like doors, equipment closets, and so on are part of the composition. The image up at the top is me, standing in front of a dense area.
And, finally, it’s ephemeral. Like dance or theater, this is only for a short space. They’ll paint over the wall later this summer, and then the space will be used for something else. If you see it (it’s on until mid-May) you will only keep the memory. You won’t be able to go back.