Hill Talk: The Wettest Art Form

Posted July 15, 2009 at 4:33pm

When Lisa Gold, executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts, says she wants people to experience new art forms, she’s not kidding. Gold is the mastermind behind SynchroSwim, an event to be held at Capitol Skyline Hotel’s retro pool on Sunday.

“I wanted to do something that wasn’t a traditional exhibition,— she said. “I thought, why not take advantage of this setting in the pool?—

The WPA invited area residents to form synchronized swimming teams of two to 10 performers and encouraged them to wear creative attire. The only requirement is that performers be able to swim (though a lifeguard will be on hand). Six teams will perform starting at 6 p.m. Spike Mendelsohn, founder of Good Stuff Eatery, Philippa Hughes, founder of the Pink Line Project, and WonKee Moon, competition chair for the D.C. Aquatics Club, will judge the teams and name winners in three categories: best performance, best visual spectacle and crowd favorite. The hotel will award prizes.

While the swimming competition will last one hour, a concurrent exhibition in the adjacent video lounge will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Leigh Conner, the director of Conner Contemporary Art, said her gallery is excited to use the hotel’s lounge to introduce visitors to this twist on more traditional art.

“Video art is like paintings except for you can project them onto a wall,— she said. Conner said ideally visitors will watch some of the swimming, take a dip in the pool and get a burger on the deck, and stop in to watch some of the experimental video.

Both Gold and Conner hope the event will attract some attention to their respective organizations. Gold hopes there will be a big turnout, and though she wouldn’t commit to anything specific, she said they would like to plan more events at the pool. For now, though, she wants Sunday’s competition to entertain and surprise spectators.

I’m “hoping for some crazy performances, some really interesting things, you know, probably some failures, too,— she said, laughing.