A playful installation has transformed Washington D.C.’s National Building Museum’s Great Hall into a hall of mirrors. Suchi Reddy unveils “LOOK HERE,” a monumental collection of reflective fortune tellers that divines stories in civil rights history.
Suchi, founder and principal of Reddymade Architecture, is the first BIPOC woman to create a piece for the museum’s annual Summer Block Party exhibition in the Great Hall. Driven by the motto “form follows feeling,” Reddymade’s projects are engaging and emotive. Blending architecture with art and neuroscience, Suchi builds whimsical spaces that trigger happy emotions even in uncomfortable environments, like hospitals.
“I believe that architecture, environments, and experiences play an essential role in shaping an understanding of ourselves as humans with agency, equity, and empathy,” Suchi said.
“LOOK HERE” takes the form of a paper fortune teller, a crafty toy that brings up memories of elementary school. Kids scrawl advice, premonitions, or platitudes on the inside of their handmade tellers and pass them between desks, confirming crushes and predicting grades. In Suchi’s colossal versions, which measure between five to seven feet wide, the fortune tellers feature images from iconic activist movements, including a photo from the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. By inserting such images into the fortune tellers, Suchi shows how important it is for people to advocate for social justice. The nostalgic forms also emphasize that youth are the future, and the photos are a blueprint to follow.
“As visitors experience the images of activism in “LOOK HERE,” it’s my hope that they will see themselves in the reflective surfaces, as part of these important moments in our history,” Suchi said.
People get a close look at the tellers by walking up a spiraling ramp. When they reach the top, they recline on comfortable pillows and gaze at the sculptures that float from the ceiling. Among the reflections are the warped details of the Great Hall’s Beaux Arts details: corinthian columns, repeating archways, and pink marble. Light dances upon the unpolished aluminum surface, bouncing sunlight during the day and glittering like a disco ball at night.
After taking in the view, visitors can approach the giant kaleidoscope that is centered on the installation. Each segment is eight feet tall, absorbing an entire human into its reflection. No one is too small to become a geometric explosion.
“LOOK HERE” will be activated during Summer Block Party events all summer long. Thursday nights bring food trucks and music to the building. Other, calmer, events include sound baths for recentering yourself and kaleidoscope workshops for families. Suchi will give a lecture for the museum’s speaker series, Spotlight on Design, on July 17.