The Red Line D.C. Project is a thought-provoking documentary about illegal art and public space. With the Washington metro as our backdrop, a fifteen minute ride along the Northeast portion of the Red line demonstrates a city’s struggle with visibility and power. In this historic transportation corridor and storied graffiti space, buffed walls make as much of a statement as the anonymous assailants who paint them, again and again. For decades, “the Line” has been like a rite of passage for graffiti writers practicing the tradition and promoting their public name. Now, with the arrival of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT), a pedestrian pathway developing along the Red line, both access and aesthetics are quickly changing.
How do commuters feel about riding the Red line and what do they have to say about the view outside their window? Why is the Red line important to D.C. and what does graffiti mean in the context of gentrification in the capital city? To answer these enduring questions, we interview as many stakeholders as possible. We connect graffiti writers, metro riders, art affiliates and local officials, and use Red line graffiti to explore the changing face of the city.
As a transmedia documentary project, Red Line D.C. attempts to facilitate an ongoing social dialogue. Our final goal is to produce a short, two-part documentary series, but our ultimate goal is to spark community engagement and direct interaction with the space. To keep you invested in our work, we’ll be posting updates on the progress of the film series and rolling out teaser videos, rough cuts and other tidbits for continued interest.
While we document Red line graffiti and all the alterations to the surrounding space, we invite you to join the conversation and help influence our choices behind the scenes. Those living (or commuting) in the D.C. metro area are especially encouraged to participate. Tell us what you think of Red line graffiti and what you hope to see in the documentary. Email photos from your next ride and feedback about your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org. Share relevant links, news clips and memorable graffiti encounters from other cities. Whether you’re for or against the issue, feel free to honestly weigh in on what public art–illegal or otherwise–means to you. Is Washington’s metro graffiti nothing more than “visual litter” or a cause for conversation in transit?
Partnering in this effort is the community arts nonprofit Words, Beats & Life, Inc. A portion of the project’s funding has been awarded by the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. through a small planning grant. (Please note that the views expressed in The Red Line D.C. Project do not represent those of HCWDC.)