Metro Weekly

ArTecHouse celebrates National Cherry Blossom Festival with “Renewal 2121”

Show offers a glimpse at a future industrial urban environment where nature fights to survive

ArTecHouse: Renewal 2121 -- Photo: Clarissa Villando
ArTecHouse: Renewal 2121 – Photo: Clarissa Villando

For its fourth annual celebration of spring and cherry blossoms, the innovative and experiential gallery ArTecHouse offers visitors a glimpse exactly 100 years into the future. This year’s exhibition at what is billed “the nation’s first digital art space” has blossomed into a more pressing and serious affair than those of years past. And although it remains an official part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Renewal 2121 is not the typical all-rosy affair, either.

In fact, organizers opted for a show carrying a sense of urgency and importance that’s all-but written in black and white by setting it in an industrial urban environment where nature fights to survive amid overdevelopment and the effects of climate change. This will be our future, notes the official description, “if humanity’s growth and expansion goes unchecked.”

Renewal 2121 was conceived as a way to try to inspire greater action in tackling climate change. Visitors to the multi-sensory exhibition, spread throughout ArTecHouse’s subterranean space in Southwest D.C., will explore the future metropolis from four different vantage points: its cyberpunk cityscape, an interactive market, bustling alleyways, and an abandoned rooftop.

ArTecHouse: Renewal 2121 -- Photo: Clarissa Villando
ArTecHouse: Renewal 2121 – Photo: Clarissa Villando

Remarkably, nature can be found peeking through the plastic, concrete, and neon lights, or “the most unexpected places amidst this industrial future” — noted as a symbol of hope about nature’s adaptive resilience. An original production from the gallery’s in-house creative team working in collaboration with multidisciplinary artists from around the world, Renewal 2121 features visual design by Yuya Takeda from Japan, scenery from the Maryland production company Design Foundry, and an original score by the German group Mario Hammer and the Lonely Robot.

“Every year we get inspired by the incredible power and beauty of nature to bring the cherry blossom season and its message of renewal and reflection to life at our innovative art space,” says co-founder and chief creative officer Sandro Kereselidze. “This year, we felt it was imperative to spotlight the collective environmental responsibility needed to ensure that our natural surroundings thrive. We hope that this installation will inspire visitors to be part of the positive change.”

On view daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Sept. 6. ArTecHouse is at 1238 Maryland Ave. SW. Tickets are $17 to $24. Visit www.artechouse.com.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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