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A Trippy New Exhibit Is Opening at the National Building Museum

Suchi Reddy's "Look Here" installation, which opens July 1, may remind you of a giant house of mirrors.

All photos by Malcolm Ferguson.

On July 1, the National Building Museum will kick off the seventh edition of its annual Summer Block Party series with the installment of “Look Here,” by artist, architect, and founder of Reddymade Architecture and Design, Suchi Reddy. The exhibit will be on display through Labor Day, September 4. 

A native of Chennai, India, Suchi Reddy is the first BIPOC woman to work with the Summer Block Party series. Taking up the entirety of the museum’s Great Hall, her installment involves huge, aluminum fractals—Reddy also calls them “fortune-tellers” or “cootie-catchers”—which create kaleidoscopic reflections that make everything they catch look warped and hallucinatory, sort of like a funhouse mirror. Visitors will encounter the shiny fractals both at ground level and suspended high from the ceiling, as they make their way up the large oval-shaped exhibit ramp. Light bounces wildly around the installation, allowing visitors to see many different contorted reflections of themselves and the Great Hall. “No two views are alike,” Reddy said at a press preview of the exhibit.

According to the National Building Museum’s executive director Aileen Fuchs, Reddy’s installation, in some ways, turns the museum’s Great Hall into an “abstract house of mirrors.”

“My mantra is ‘form follows feeling,’ ” Reddy said. “Architecture environments and experiences play an essential role in shaping an understanding of ourselves as humans.” Her past works include public art pieces such as “X is for Love” in Times Square, as well as interior design projects like the Google store in Chelsea, New York. 

Artist Suchi Reddy speaks at the exhibit’s press preview.

Reddy’s inspiration for the project came from a vague but consistent memory of the fortune-teller toys she used to play with as a child. “With the fortune-tellers—and I didn’t even know their name—I was thinking about using perspective as a way to tell our collective future,” she said. “What you see though are giant kaleidoscopes that you can see through, sit in, and play with. You can see how an interactive experience like that feels in space.” 

“Look Here” also implements several iconic pictures of protest and activism, taking images from the March on Washington and the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and printing them onto the large aluminum fortune-tellers. Reddy intends for visitors to see their faces mirrored in these images so that they may consider the roles they place in time, space, and culture. Reddy also mentioned that the histories of the Civil Rights, Climate Justice, and Black Lives Matter movements had a great impact on her when she first arrived in the United States, and she incorporated them into the project.   

“You’ll see yourself reflected in a few of these fractals of activist marches in DC. We’re coming up to the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, which for me was mind-blowing when I first learned about it, as was the Climate March in 2017,” said Reddy. “I believe these are incredibly important for us all to come together around, since it’s something that affects everybody, regardless of what our affiliations might be, for lifetimes.”   

The National Building Museum will host a series of events surrounding the “Look Here” exhibit, including its after-hours programming Late Nights; Kaleidoscope Workshops and a lecture with Suchi Reddy; and “Ward Days,” in which DC residents can gain free admission to “Look Here” and other exhibits based on what ward they reside in. 

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Malcolm Ferguson
Editorial Fellow