Is it an art space or a backdrop for selfies? Does it matter anymore?
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Artechouse’s projection screen, tall and imposing, shimmers with paint. It bubbles and drips and swirls, like something you’d see on the Discovery Channel. Like a laser-light show, but also just like a very large lava lamp. ¶ Artechouse — the name implies art. The 15,000-square-foot space is billed as a place for “immersive, sensory art experiences,” which, roughly translated, means that there are exhibits where you might clap at the screen and evoke lightning and thunder, or simply swipe your hand and cause swirls of color on the floor to move and sway, like bubbles in the bathtub. ¶ It also happens to be a highly photogenic place.
“Do you want to take a picture?” a bartender asks, reading our mind. He’s holding perfectly still at the long bar, prepared for the inevitable as he delivers a cocktail that changes from blue to purple. (Yes, there is a bar.)
Not everyone is posing artfully in front of the projection screen, primed for a photo shoot. But plenty of visitors are. (Go on, look at the 6,000-plus Instagram posts the place is tagged in.) As Artechouse co-founder Tati Pastukhova, 30, delicately puts it: “There are people who would like to come tell a story.”
The story is often just a photo. And she acknowledges that posted on social media, it can ensure that others will also visit — 65,000 have since Artechouse opened in June in a vacant building in Southwest Washington — and pay $15 for the privilege.
Pastukhova and her partner insist that Artechouse is an artistic endeavor, and besides, even museums allow cellphones these days.
“We’re living in a very different world than 10 years ago,” says co-founder Sandro Kereselidze, 41.
But do visitors really grasp the art? He’s indifferent. “We can’t judge anyone and say, ‘You didn’t get it,’ ” he says.
It’s also $15 to get into the Future of Sports, a 10,000-square-foot exhibit that opened a few miles away, in October, with rooms painted every shade of the Technicolor rainbow, most notably that pale, baby-powder-soft shade known as Millennial Pink.
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