Washington, DC 4

Monday we went to the Hirshhorn Modern Art museum. This is one Younger Kid specifically asked for. I was surprised, but went in with no expectations.

We started at the sculpture garden outside – sat next to creepy headless people, and ate ice cream. They watched us.

We also really liked these three:

Pretty awesome spider made out of strings or wires, thus less scary than a normal spider.

Miro, because of the amazing textures. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the box is corrugated cardboard.

Typewriter eraser. Younger kid felt betrayed – both parents told him there’s no such thing.

White tree of Gondor (Younger Kid recognized it)

The Thinker – reminded me of the Black Rabbit from Watership Down

But our favorite was House I, by Lichtenstein. We did not make it spin, but the moment of going from thinking “it’s flat, but the illusion is that it’s 3D” to realizing that it is 3D was really great.

Hirshhorn was dark. Like an avalanche of gloom and terror.

Between the one spiky and beautiful globe of rainbows by Eliasson and the glorious prisms by Mary Bauermeister (above) was

  1. A funereal purple installation about consumerism killing the world https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/john-akomfrah-purple/
  2. A deadly green film about the jungle (I wish I had photographed the leaves dripping paint) and the actor’s need to be constantly seen (a very sad and cynical riff on Socrates, but gloriously green, wet, and liquid)
  3. An exhibition of modern Chinese photography. I was most struck by a series of portraits of the artist’s parents (from revolution to old age, sickness, and death), a collage of hundreds of identical 3-people family photos, and a version of the traditional four seasons paintings (circle in a square with a branch and a bird) in which all birds have been messily killed. Keep in mind that I steered away from the scarier walls. https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/a-window-suddenly-opens-contemporary-photography-in-china/
  4. A floor dedicated to an abstract Pickett’s Charge – chaos and violence in torn paper. https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/mark-bradford-picketts-charge/
  5. An overwhelming, chaotic, complex and screaming black and white room about ravens, flood, absurdity, and inevitable destruction of the world, which may be a dream anyway.
  6. An exhibition centered on the pains and troubles of being a non-male artist
  7. A red white and black room about current politics and the world in general https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/barbara-kruger-beliefdoubt/
  8. A desert-colored meditation by Dana Awartani about impermanence of home and memory. There was a mosaic tile, re-created with sand, on the floor, and a movie about the destruction of the same in an abandoned home in the village where her grandparents used to live before history happened, as it does. She made an immensely complicated pattern with colored sand in order to sweep it up, a melancholy mandala.

Therefore it’s not surprising that we went straight home afterwards, pausing only to admire a small enclosed and fragrant garden. What is surprising although it probably shouldn’t be is that Younger Kid paid careful attention to all of the above (esp. Dana Awartani’s film) and seemed to be thinking about it.

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