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Steel yourself for whiplash. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which placed an art installation in Anacostia then promised to remove it after backlash from neighbors, has reversed its decision again.
Last week, Anacostia residents complained to 311and Ward 8 councilmemberMarion Barry about the installation of Abigail DeVille's "The New Migration," one of 25 public-art pieces and performances now on view for the commission's 5x5 project. It's a collection of debris—broken TVs, lumber scraps, old car seats, and the like—DeVille collected along the Seaboard Air Line Railway, a common route that African-Americans took as they fled north, out of Jim Crow territory, in the first half of the last century.
DeVille's work was meant as a commentary on the displacement of blacks from fast-gentrifying city centers—perhaps a particularly pointed and apt sentiment for the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, where the installation was set up behind vacant storefront windows. But some Anacostia residents thought the piece just looked like a pile of trash, an affront to a neighborhood that's spent decades battling blight and fighting for city development dollars. Barry chimed in, too, saying it "looks like junk" and that he'd "be getting to the bottom of it."