Sunday, June 29, 2014
Sitebound: Photography from the Collection
When: through September 1, 2014
I always have low expectations when I head to the Hirshhorn (unless it's to see one of their videos, which are terrific), but I found myself disappointed in this show, not because of the content, but because of the display itself. Usually, I think what they have on offer is "silly art" as my niece would say, but many of the photos were interesting. The one featured here reminded me strongly of the photos of Mars I saw at Air and Space not long ago.
In addition, there was a photograph of people at a Berlin museum that I found fascinating (no surprise there, I'm always drawn to photos or paintings of people in museums). One criticism I will make of the show itself is that the wall notes mentioned a series of photos of Disney "after hours," a behind-the-scenes look at the park, which I thought might be interesting - instead, there was only one picture, and I couldn't even tell you what it was. One piece does not a series make.
My real beef with this show is the display. Generally, I think the Smithsonian does a fantastic job with their shows. They're well organized; there's a flow to the arrangement; it's easy to progress from one part to another. As I mentioned in my write-up of the "Star Spangled Banner" display, when they want to put up a show-stopper, they can do it and then some. This show, however, is the opposite of that. It's in two rooms, on either side of the escalator, with some photos around the escalator. It made it very hard to concentrate on the pieces, as I was looking around for the rest of the show. I understand that this is (I'm assuming) because most of the 2nd floor is closed so they can set up a display to open next fall. With the third floor closed entirely (not sure if that's for renovation or due to budget cuts), and the lower level devoted to videos, it really doesn't leave them much space for this exhibit. Still, I would either have put this show off, or put it in the main hallway, rather than squeeze it into this awkward area.
Verdict: If you're here to see one of the videos, you could wander up to the 2nd floor and have a look. Otherwise, I don't know that I'd make a special trip.