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Guerilla projectionist and artist Robin Bell opens show next to White House
Robin Bell. Photo: Liz Gorman / GW University.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Robin Bell made a name for himself as the artist projecting social commentary on well-known venues in the Washington area; including phrases targeting President Donald Trump on the facade of the Trump International Hotel and fossil fuel awareness on the American Petroleum Institute. Today the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University opened an exhibition of original lights and projections by Mr. Bell. “Open: An Installation by Robin Bell,” in the atrium and an adjacent gallery of the Corcoran School’s historic Flagg Building, runs until March 31, 2019.

Mr. Bell is a video artist, filmmaker and street projectionist from Washington, D.C. He creates guerrilla projections that transform government buildings and hotels into conversation pieces. Though his messages can be viewed by some as controversial he has gained a following with people who often learn of his works through social media.
“We’re in the middle of a time when closure is being talked about. We’re talking about closed borders, closed thought and a rise of authoritarianism around the world, so as thinkers, as people and as educators we want to talk about openness,” Mr. Bell, who taught at the Corcoran in the early 2000s, said. “Something really big is happening in our society and I think the struggle that we, as a country and as a world, are facing right now is: how do we remain open.”

“Open” is a celebration of transparency, belonging and accessibility. Reflecting on the cancellation of the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Corcoran 30 years ago, Mr. Bell intends for this exhibition to serve a counterpoint to decisions regarding censorship, erasure and closure. Through this exhibition he debuts site-specific works that take into account the physical location of the Corcoran across the street from the White House, the cultural nexus in which the Corcoran exists, and the fundamental rights born in the First Amendment. For Mr. Bell, “Open” is a goal: open borders, open thought and, most importantly, open dialogue.

“Robin's work has been at the forefront of timely dialogues that stand at the intersections of culture, politics, community and resilience,” Sanjit Sethi, the director of the Corcoran said. “This installation takes the much-used word ‘open’ and prompts visitors to think more critically about our society. At a time where much of our current discourse revolves around shutdowns, walls, isolation and intractability, Robin asks us to think about the freedom that comes with being open, transparent and poetic.”

The Corcoran strives to promote diversity of thought and experience, address critical social issues and educate the next generation of creative cultural leaders. “Open” is a prelude to “6.13.89,” an exhibition set to open at the Corcoran in summer 2019 that will examine the climate that led to the Corcoran Gallery of Art to cancel its Mapplethorpe retrospective 30 years earlier.

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