January 2010

Call + Response | Images Answer Language

Curator's Note:

It’s common to hear complaints that there aren’t really any artists and writers in Washington, DC. We’ve heard it; we’ve even, perhaps, said it, back in those days of 2007 after we’d just moved here, Kira in September, William in December. But is it true?In June 2009, we both attended the opening at Civilian Arts Project of a show of rock concert posters created by artists from all over the East Coast. The crowd was large, friendly, and animated; the posters were sharp and imaginative and a thrill to look at; the atmosphere crackled with possibility and experimentation. At some point during the night, we said to each other, Let’s do this. Let’s make an art show of our own. Kira had done it before, once, in Miami, and a notion to pair writers and artists had been kicking around in William’s head for years. Other than that, we would work from scratch.

What started as an idea buoyed only by an attitude of Hey! Let’s curate an art show! is now, sixth months later, a reality. Sixteen writers and sixteen visual artists from Washington, DC, and beyond have paired to create artworks that resonate with each other in natural or strange but always exciting ways. For each pairing, the writer has provided the call and the visual artist has created the response. Call + Response’s participants have, as we hoped, given a new twist to the term the show is named for, traditionally referring to musicians playing off of each other. We believe the resulting paired works help to build a bridge between two distinct, fertile, and very much alive communities.

Artists and writers do live here. Many people wiser than us, with more years in the District, already knew it, but we had to come to it anew, in our own way. On the surface DC may seem to be more a bubbling cauldron of bureaucracy than 9 creativity, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on that a deeper look can’t reveal. In the process of pulling together artists and writers, we tapped a rich vein of creativity that could supply many more shows like this one. This show simply wouldn’t have been possible without generative grounds for creation. 

Beyond the thrill of bringing Call + Response to life, we hope that the show expands the dialogue between two creative communities right here in our backyard and beyond. (And we hope that you enjoy it!)

Start a conversation. Create something. Make it happen.

Curators: William John Bert, Kira Wisniewski

January 23-February 13, 2010