Artists Take to Washington DC Pool for Annual WPA Synchronized Swimming Competition

By: Cait Munro

Published on Artnet News, August 14, 2015

Looking for a seasonally appropriate way to view art this weekend? Look no further than the Washington Project for the Arts' annual SynchroSwim competition, in which eight teams of artists duke it out during am afternoon event filled with unique, underwater dance routines. It all goes down on August 18 at 5 pm at the scenic Capitol Skyline Hotel.

"Some may actually be synchronized," the event's website warns, "but the vast majority will be a free expression of creativity."

Past performances have included a witty critique of BP's role in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, a battle between pollution and Captain Planet's Planeteers, and a patriotic excerpt from the Star Spangled Swimmer. Hey, it is DC after all.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

The competition began in 2009, and was the brainchild of Lisa Gold, the former executive director who recently left the organization for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

"When I first got here, Mera Rubell offered to let WPA use the Capitol Skyline Hotel for programming. She didn't put any conditions on it. So I figured I'd do something unexpected and make use of one of the hotel's best assets—the pool," Gold told the Huffington Post in 2012.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

"I had the idea to organize a synchronized swimming performance art competition. It was amazing. The place was packed and we had some interesting performances. Later, one of my board members told me he thought I was crazy, but they loved the event and couldn't have been happier with the way it turned out."

Many of the artist groups, like Baltimore-based performance art collectiveFluid Movement, have been competing since SynchroSwim began. And while there are cash prizes on the table, the event maintains a lighthearted spirit.

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Photo: Courtesy WPA.

This year's judges are Melissa Chiu, Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Lauren Landau, host of WAMU's Art Beat; and Doug Yeuell, Director of Atlas Performing Arts Center. They'll be grading on a scale of 1–10 in two categories: 1) execution (the skill and coherence of their concept), and 2) visual spectacle (the outrageousness of the team's costumes and performance). There's also a Crowd Favorite award handed to the team that garners the most audience applause.

2012-02-15-fluidmovement6

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Photo: Courtesy WPA.

Date

August 14, 2015

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