About the Project
Washington, DC-based, emerging artist Darius Frank’s first ever public art commission, Things I Love/d, came to Dock 5 in DC’s Union Market on July 29 & 30, 2017. The project featured an immersive multi-channel video installation exploring a changing DC through the stories of long-time residents.
Invested in contemporary reflections on the present and past of DC, Darius Frank undertook a multimedia work that explored these issues through the words of friends, family, and community members. The work came together featuring a video where Frank uses individual storytelling and testimonials as a vehicle to give personal texture to things lost and loved by former and current residents of DC. A multi-channel video installation juxtaposed candid and descriptive tales of what each storyteller used to love about “old DC” alongside the things they might appreciate about the “new DC”. The resulting stories traversed the changing eras of the city, and wove a complex yet intimate narrative of gentrification and evolution in our urban centers with universal resonance.
The storytellers are various DC residents – diverse in age, gender, race and background – reflecting on prompts from the artist, such as “Describe one thing that’s lost”, “What did you love?” or “What do you love now?” Stories could be around a specific neighborhood haunt, activities, music, food, etc., and participants were encouraged to “paint a picture”. Sharing a highly detailed visual description of the scenes in which these memories are sited, then allowed Frank to create an artwork that represents these collective memories.
Things I Love/d is a project developed in collaboration with Creative Time for the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE ® Artisan Series.
Curator’s Statement from Nato Thompson
Something is happening in D.C. Artist Darius Frank can feel it. He paints it. He films it. There is a dissonance in appreciation and memory across a wide array of people — young and old, black and white, male and female – those who have come to love and have always loved the nation’s capital. In his first-ever public art exhibition, Frank pays homage to the differing perspectives on this metropolis, and provides a platform for us to take in a kaleidoscope of personal experiences.
In recent years, America’s urban populations have witnessed rapid transformations in their cities. In D.C. in particular, median housing prices increased more than three-fold between 1995 and 2010 – economic shifts that are not without racial implications, as the black population declined by 14% within that same time period.* Residents have actively watched the world they know be dismantled, reassembled and set anew in a journey filled with complex emotions, running the gamut from nostalgia to resentment. For Frank, an artist born in 1987, these complex and at times contradictory emotions have a personal and intergenerational dimension.
Reflecting on the past, present, and future of his hometown, Frank asks: What do D.C.’s residents remember and long for? What memories of their city would they happily let go? How has D.C.’s transformation manifested in the dreams and aspirations of the people who now inhabit what was once referred to by the 1970s funk band Parliament as the “Chocolate City”?
By focusing his lens on what one loves or has loved, Frank creates a space of contact between longtime residents and new arrivals to appreciate what has come to be, and of course, what has been. Expanding on his practice of portraiture, Frank presents a complex and intimate narrative of urban evolution through a multi-channel video installation and series of paintings for the exhibition, Things I Love/d.
* Lawrence, Will. “Displacement in DC: A Case Study of Gentrification and Granger-Causality in Our Nation’s Capitol.” (2013)
Things I Love/d, 21:38 video installation, 2017
Conceived by Darius Frank
Directed by Jay Buim
Director of Photography: Kyle Repka
Additional Video + Camera Assistant: Rick Cook
Sound: Catherine Hood
A very special thank you to our Interviewees: