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In the galleries: An intimate panorama of video art’s variety and breadth

Installation view of "Frame & Frequency VII" at VisArts. (VisArts)
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All of the art forms called “time-based” proceed at a pace determined by their creators, but only video and film have the seeming power to speed, slow, stop and even reverse time. That characteristic is conspicuous in “Frame & Frequency VII,” VisArts’s latest survey of international videos. The pieces — eight in the Kaplan Gallery and one in the elevator lobby — range from unhurried to hyperkinetic.

The jumpiest is Marin Martinie’s “Apparition of Standard Figures,” in which emoticons flicker and frolic across the screen. The French animator’s witty video alternates between soft- and hard-edge shapes, turning ever-changing doodles into faces with the addition of simply drawn mouths and eyes. “Apparition” is flanked by the similarly fidgety “Hallucinations,” in which quick-mutating organic forms are superimposed on a man described by a gallery note as “anti-hetero/queer.” German video-maker Roland Lauth’s pink-tinted piece suggests the influence of Matthew Barney, whose “Cremaster Cycle” spins through enigmatic metamorphoses.

In spirit, Martinie’s video is most akin to Alexander Fingrutd’s “Press Pound to Connect,” a fidgety collage of old-movie scenes involving telephones. A puckish antiquarian, the Philadelphia artist scored his short to obsolete phone sounds, and presents the footage in degraded black-and-white that recalls idiosyncratic Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s pseudo-silent-era films. Similar in technique to Fingrutd’s video but more politically pointed, Carlos Franco’s “” is a feverish compendium of outrages against Puerto Rico.

Sarah Lasley’s “How I Choose to Spend the Rest of My Birthing Years” borrows an erotic scene from a single, not-so-old movie, 1987’s “Dirty Dancing.” The Texas filmmaker begins simply by explaining her girlhood obsession with the film, but soon hops into the story to partner with a shirtless Patrick Swayze. Also based on her youth, Leslie Condon’s “An Homage to the Asian Women in My Life 1981-2000,” is a series of poses that emulate TV and movie role models for the Boston artist, who grew up as an Asian adoptee of a White family. The video adopts a deliberate gait, giving Condon all the time she needs to dream herself into someone else.

Frame & Frequency VII Through July 2 at VisArts, 155 Gibbs St., Rockville.

Brian Dailey

Many artists have political opinions, but few have actual policy experience. A notable exception is local conceptualist Brian Dailey, whose wide-ranging “Giving Voice” is at Terzo Piano. A few years after beginning an art career in Los Angeles in the 1970s, he returned to school to study international relations, developing a specialty in arms control. That background informs elegant yet ominous sculptures such as “Thinking the Unthinkable,” a stainless-steel sphere, representing a hydrogen bomb’s explosive core, perched on a granite base.

The show includes pieces from “14 Stations at the Crossroads,” a cryptically autobiographical series of photos and paintings. But most of Dailey’s art forgoes a personal touch. Machine-made or computer-generated, his photos, videos, sculptures and cryptographic riddles are sleek and pristine. No vestiges of the human hand distract from Dailey’s topics, which are as diverse as classical philosophy and the nature of the United States.

When Daily does give voice, it is to other people’s opinions. His “America in Color” is a set of full-body portraits in which his subjects pose before backdrops whose color indicates their political affiliations (or lack thereof). “Words” is a multiscreen video (shown in a different version at American University Museum in 2018) in which people from 120 countries respond tersely to such ideas as war, capitalism and the U.S.A. (whose capsule reviews are seldom flattering).

“Words,” begun in 2012, inspired later pieces that are pure text. These are handsomely designed and executed, yet uninvolving. Subjective viewpoints, even if they’re not the artist’s, enliven global dialogue.

Brian Dailey: Giving Voice Through July 3 at Terzo Piano, 1515 14th St. NW. Open by appointment.

Tawny Chatmon

The text that accompanies Tawny Chatmon’s portrait show at Galerie Myrtis includes love letters to three of the subjects: her children. But words aren’t necessary to convey the message of “If I’m No Longer Here, I Wanted You to Know . . . ” The Maryland artist, a veteran commercial photographer, makes crisp pictures of cherished people and then adorns them with loosely painted jewels and flowers. The ornaments, rendered with pigment and gold leaf and sometimes three-dimensional, complement lustrous shades of Black skin and hair.

Gold is common in European and Asian art, representing divinity, enlightenment or simply a wealthy patron. While Chatmon’s nearly life-size photo-paintings are displayed inside antique gilded frames that evoke a millennia of Old World art, her embellishments recall a specific place and time: the turn-of-the-century Vienna of Gustav Klimt. Like that artist, Chatmon places realistic renderings of faces within sumptuous abstract patterns. But where Klimt usually portrayed women, Chatmon depicts mostly children. Each picture is an affirmation, and a hope for a golden life to come.

Tawny Chatmon: If I’m No Longer Here, I Wanted You to Know . . . Through July 10 at Galerie Myrtis, 2224 N. Charles St., Baltimore. Open by appointment.

McGinley and Nowell-Wilson

Neither is a painter, but Sydney McGinley and Lee Nowell-Wilson make figure studies that achieve a lush creaminess. That’s slightly less remarkable in the case of McGinley, a Pennsylvania pastel artist whose drawings are at Martha Spak Gallery alongside Erin Raedeke’s still lifes. Pencil lines are sometimes visible in McGinley’s pictures, but the compositions are dominated by soft colors and forms.

Nowell-Wilson seems to use pencil only, though perhaps she employs charcoal in the looser elements that frame her self-portraits. There’s room for just two of the Baltimore artist’s large black-and-white drawings in the window of Plain Sight D.C., a storefront gallery that also displays stacks of Milked, a magazine Nowell-Wilson co-founded to publish art of “the maternal experience.”

Thus Nowell-Wilson cradles a lapful of eggs in one of her drawings, whose poses are modeled on classical canvases. McGinley’s pictures, whose style derives from French impressionism, are less symbolic. But both artists expertly depict women, offering the positioning of their limbs, the drape of their clothing and the fluidity of their hair as embodiments of grace.

Sydney McGinley Through June 29 at Martha Spak Gallery, 40 District Square SW.

Lee Nowell-Wilson: Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk Through July 17 at Plain Sight D.C., 3218 Georgia Ave. NW.

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