TEN MILES SQUARE » Ten Miles Square captures the viewpoints of boundary stones along the Washington, DC border. In 1790, George Washington was tasked with selecting the initial one hundred square miles that would serve as the capital for the United States of America. The following year, surveyor Andrew Ellicott and his team began placing forty boundary stones, each a mile apart, to mark the borders of President Washington’s capital city. Today, the whereabouts of thirty-nine of these stones are known and thirty-eight of them reside within a few yards of – if not in – their original locations.
If Washington, DC was conceived as a city of magnificence, as indicated in L’Enfant’s “Baroque plan featur[ing] ceremonial spaces and grand radial avenues,” it is perhaps most intriguing that the boundary stones do not look out upon lavish monuments, sumptuous federal government buildings, or grandiose urban parks and other open spaces. Make no mistake these places certainly do exist within the city limits, but instead the viewpoints from the boundary stones depict the lived, everyday perspective of local residents. Moreover, while local historians claim that the boundary markers are the country’s oldest federal monuments, the stones – standing less than three feet tall today – are far from monumental. The original engraved text is wearing away and as a result, the significance of the stones is becoming lost. Thus, the stones, themselves, easily fade into the background of everyday urban life. We are ultimately presented with the tension between the anticipated splendor and the actual quotidian of the city.
Ten Miles Square exists in a variety of forms: as an immersive sculptural installation, as a hand-made artist book, and finally, as archival inkjet prints depicting the four viewpoints from each stone.
Installations: Institute of Contemporary Art (2010)