The Red Line D.C. Project is a community-based documentary project 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 metro represents the changing face of the city.
STORY = SETTING
The RED LINE is the oldest line within the Metro rail system. It opened on March 27, 1976, and at the time, only ran from Rhode Island Avenue to Farragut North. Today, there are 27 stops along the route. SEE / LINE focuses on the outdoor segment that runs toward Glenmont.
The METROPOLITAN-BRANCH TRAIL (MBT) broke ground by Rhode Island Avenue station in the summer of 2009. The stretch between New York Avenue and Franklin Street, featured prominently in the film, is part of an 8-mile path paralleling the B&O Railroad, that will eventually run from Union Station to Silver Spring.
MURALS DC was established in 2007 as a way to abate illegal graffiti with city-sanctioned public art. The Department of Public Works, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and nonprofit organization Words Beats and Life, Inc. are responsible for many of the legal works cropping up along the Red line.
Is D.C. metro graffiti nothing more than “visual litter” or cause for conversation in transit? We interviewed stakeholders on opposing tracks to create a unique conversation around illegal public art.
For decades, “the Line” has been like a rite of passage for graffiti writers practicing the tradition and promoting their public name.
“I hit the Red line so I can be known ... There's so many ways to get on the Line, so many ways. You just gotta find 'em."
"I always go to Rhode Island, Brookland station, Takoma ... Silver Spring, because they have endless spots -- walls for days ... And, I'm a graffiti writer, so I hit 'em.
NIGHT & DAY -- Change comes to Northeast via the Metropolitan-Branch Trail, a pedestrian pathway being developed, between Union Station and Silver Spring. With it, we see an increase in buffed graffiti, commissioned murals and people accessing the Red line's surrounding space.
"... with regards to the graffiti, it's a little bit different, because the District owns the trail, but we don't own the buildings, these buildings belong to someone else ...
-- HEATHER DEUTSCH, urban planner
We know that, typically, wherever we put a mural, we know that's one less wall that will be tagged.
-- NANCEE LYONS, D.C. Dept. of Public Works
Director / Producer — Saaret E. Yoseph