Stoop without a home

Margo Elsayd, an artist based in Washington D.C. and School of Art alumni, has been rolling her mobile stoop around the DC area and waiting for people to ask her what she’s doing. It started September 2 as part of E12: Social Practice, the 12th iteration of a yearly program for emerging DC artists started by Transformer gallery. The Mobile Community Stoop Project emerged as simply a sculpture according to Elsayd.  She never intended for her work to be political, but most of the conversations that have occurred on her stoop have related to the city’s changing fabric.”People absolutely need a public platform to come out,” Elsayd said.  “I don’t think (some of them) would have met each other otherwise.  With the stoop, people gained curiosity, and then they took it from there.”

While stoops are a passing trend in DC Elsayd hopes it will live on through The Mobile Community Stoop Project. “Stoop culture’s a really big thing out (in northeast DC),” Elsayd told Hyperallergic.  “I live in a really cool neighborhood where we all sit on our stoops, but there’s a lot of development going on in DC so there’s always apartment buildings going up. So we’re losing the sense of community because they’re a social device: we sit outside, talk to our neighbors.”

As the city only continues to grow quickly skyward, residents and businesses are not only being displaced but are also increasingly losing traditional sources for community bonding mentioned in an article on the stoop by Hyperallergic.  The Mobile Community Stoop Project is a simple tribute to a humble architectural feature, but it stands as a site for people to come together, share their concerns, and perhaps rally to make a change.

Interactivity is key in Elsayd’s work.  Her work bridges performance and activism. Four times a week since the start, Elsayd has pushed her stoop to some new place in DC. Most people recognize the what, if not the why.  The stoop is a vital symbol in DC and other cities on the East Coast. Everyone knows what to do with a stoop. “How do they form communities in apartment buildings? Stoops were created as a social device, for people to connect with one another and hang out and talk,” says Elsayd.

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