THE SHOW IS A GAME (Name That Washingtonian) -- or a high school yearbook. The show's catalogue is a Peoplewatchers' Guide to Washington, invaluable for figuring out who's sitting at the next table in the restaurant.
You've seen them somewhere before, these 590 faces in the Michael Evans photography exhibit, "People and Power: Portraits from the Federal Village," at the Corcoran.
By the president's personal photographer, they're photos of the machine that runs Reagan's Washington. Evans describes it as a Rube Goldberg contraption: "The president's at the pinnacle, and everybody's got a hand attached to a lever."
Looking at these photographs is about as psychologically revealing as watching a parade: The members of the band dress alike, and one can barely glimpse the tuba player's face. But the thrust of Evans' four-year project wasn't psychological. It was reportorial: He's turning the negatives over to the Archives as a permanent record of the Reagan years.
Watching a parade is fun, though. Why is it that the members of the intelligence community all squint meanly as they pass? Hey, there's Lyn Nofziger, wearing his Mickey Mouse tie. And why is it that the White House press photographers don't wear ties? But they do wear those dangling cameras, and one even sports a lanyard with a coin hanging from it.
We can make a few generalizations. Those used to being in the public eye look that way -- Roger Mudd, Pat Boone, Shirley Temple Black and all the senators. Reporters, like Helen Thomas, raise their shoulders in a permanent question.
Some power-people look like animals: Interior Secretary Bill Clark has doe eyes. Jennings Randolph looks like a cuddly bunny and Michael Deaver an eager beaver.
Though some of the men open their jackets, revealing a paunch, it's a terribly respectable crew we have here, interacting with the camera. National Gallery Director J. Carter Brown poises his hands at his waist, making opera glasses with thumbs and forefingers. White House chief of staff Jim Baker steeples his fingers towards the camera, to establish his relationship with the device. And Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin frowns into the camera as if it were a table of contents and he were deciding whether to read the book.
It's all the political punch in Washington. Yet the subjects are so placid, so staid -- and so cooperative. Except for the few men who, says Evans, "refused point-blank to put their hands in their pockets." . PEOPLE AND POWER: PORTRAITS FROM THE FEDERAL VILLAGE -- At the Corcoran Gallery of Art through February 24.