Saturday, July 23, 2011

Black Box: Laurent Grasso

Where: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

When: through July 24, 2011

As much as I dislike the Hirshhorn in general, I must admit that their Black Box series of videos has been quite good. Perhaps my favorite of the set was the film of the flooding McDonald's, but I've gotten something out of everything I've seen.

There are two videos running at present, both by Laurent Grasso. The one showing on the large screen is called Polair and is of East Berlin, covered by floating fluff. It forms a sort of haze over the city, obscuring one's view. One waits for it to clear, but one waits in vain. My guess is that it's meant to remind the viewer of cobwebs, symbolizing the death of Communism. For me, I was reminded of the floaters that sit in my eyes, making it hard to concentrate on white expanses of paper or computer screen, but I can't imagine that's a universal reaction.

The second video is showing on a small television set and is called Les Oiseaux. It depicts a flock of birds, flying in perfect formation against the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset and then over the Vatican. I found the video beautiful when it was just the birds and the sky, but somehow a menacing atmosphere arose when the birds flew past buildings - perhaps I'm thinking of Hitchcock's The Birds?

Verdict: Not the best of this series, but still worth a look. The Hirshhorn's website indicates that this exhibit lasts through August 14, so there may be a bit more time to see it.

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