Scattered Orchestra at What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw
An original concept by the Spanish collaborative mmmm… performed by Bohemian Caverns Orchestra, as part of the festival “What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw.”
What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw examines and celebrates the micro-communities, cultures and traditions within the Shaw neighborhood of DC. The curated exhibition, which will feature a wide range of events from an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony to a Scattered Orchestra playing Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye music along several blocks, is powered by the voices of Shaw residents and business owners and presented through the diverse lens of a community. The festival is the result of a grant awarded to local arts collective, Pleasant Plains Workshop, through the DC Office of Planning and the Kresge Foundation.
The festival will culminate with the performance of Scattered Orchestra, an original activation by the Spanish collaborative mmmm… performed by Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, a Washington, D.C.-based, 17-piece big band.
Scattered about the streets within the historic Blagden Alley in the heart of Shaw, Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra will simultaneously play the same music. The music played will be inspired by Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye and will mostly be of the jazz genre. Pedestrians experience the music differently depending on which street they walk past, the speed at which they walk, and by which direction they are headed. Strolling through the jazz big band, pedestrians are able to experience each instrument independently without failing to perceive the music being played. This activation by mmmm… originally premiered in Vitoria, Spain in 2009, and was also performed in Cáceres, Spain in 2011.
mmmm… is a collaboration between Emilio Alarcón, Alberto Alarcón, Ciro Márquez and Eva Salmerón, who have been creating projects for public spaces since 1998 in Madrid, Spain.
They have arranged 100 couples kissing simultaneously throughout the crowds of the city center. Noise levels on the streets unexpectedly plummeted during that moment of mass intimacy. Or they have built a life-size car in brick. It occupied a parking space between two vehicles parked in the street. The three-dimensional, pixilated car was modeled after a modern automobile. The wheels were one foot thick. The car weighed five tons.
The activation Scattered Orchestra in Washington, D.C. is the third project of the collaborative in the United States. In 2011 mmmm… built the Meeting Bowls in Times Square in New York City. This project was comprised of large objects shaped like bowls that provided seating to accommodate eight people. The temporary and playful urban furniture was designed to promote interaction by having those seated inside the bowls face one another. The bowls were a social place for gathering, getting to know people, and fostering dialogue in small groups. During the time the Meeting Bowls were installed in Times Square, approximately 20,000,000 pedestrians saw them, and tens of thousands took photographs.
In July 2014, they also created a permanent public art project in Baltimore that includes three large sculptures that form the letters BUS. Each letter stands 14 feet tall and 7 feet wide. This conceptual sculpture functions as a literal bus stop on S. East Street. BUS is made with wood and steel, materials that are typically used to build urban furniture. The three letters of BUS allow passengers to assume different postures of sitting or standing while waiting for the bus. The S allows passengers to lie back while they wait, and the B provides handicap- accessible shelter from the wind and rain. The size, shape, and function of BUS, make this unique bus stop a reference sculpture for Highlandtown neighborhood and the city of Baltimore. BUS has become an iconic urban meeting point.