Indies and Arties: She's a Rainbow

October 20, 2010


Video artists have it tough. The title is just one rung lower on the weirdo scale than “performance artist.” It conjures quaint ’90s DIY imagery, like Miranda July’s chain-letter VHS project. Or it’s 300 televisions all playing “The Price is Right” reruns and making some comment on consumerism. But Pipilotti Rist manages to be a performance artist and video artist, and not come off as a wacko or a commercial. The Swiss artist deals in short, kinetic films that explore movement, emotion and the human form. Her most well-known work might be 1997′s “Ever Is Over All,” which followed a young woman moving in slow motion down a city street, smashing car windows with a flower-shaped hammer. Rist spent nearly five years working on her first feature-length film, “Pepperminta,” which tells the tale of a young woman living in a futuristic rainbow villa with strawberries for pets. The film screens in conjunction with “Directions: Pipilotti Rist” and is co-presented by the Embassy of Switzerland.

» Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW; Sat. & Sun., 2 & 4 p.m., free; 202-633-1000. (L’Enfant Plaza)

The Original Screamo
So few Norwegian symbolist painters produce art that not only plumbs the depths of the human soul, but also gets mass-produced into inflatable novelty items you might pick up at Spencer’s. But Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” is instantly recognizable and eerily compelling. Who hasn’t battled with that heady mix of rage and ennui Munch so effortlessly conveys in that completely creepy painting? “The Scream” is actually part of a series of paintings Munch called “The Frieze of Life,” in which he explored themes of life, love, fear, death, depression and anxiety. That pretty much covers it all. Like any good tortured artist, Munch had his demons. And Norwegian filmmaker Peter Watkins attempts to chase them down in his rarely screened 1974 documentary, “Edvard Munch.” The film was controversial at its release, partly because Watkins tells the artist’s story through a combination of fiction and nonfiction. It’s shown in conjunction with the National Gallery‘s “Edvard Munch: Master Prints” exhibition, which is on view through Nov. 28.

» National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW; Thu., 2 p.m., free; 202-842-6799. (Judiciary Square)

Photo courtesy Hirshhorn

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Clinton Yates | October 19, 2010