June 26, 2013
In time for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the National Portrait Gallery‘s newest exhibition, “One Life: Martin Luther King, Jr.” looks at the inspiring career of the civil rights leader, from his childhood all the way up to his unfinished Poor People’s Campaign. The show’s curator, Ann Shumard, says she wanted to offer visitors a glimpse of the man beyond the momentous speech he delivered at the March on Washington. King is remember too often only for his “I Have a Dream” speech, cast as an awesome orator but not the man of action that he truly was. In fact, only one portrait in the exhibit captures King in a formal pose. The rest show him either with his family or at work, linking arms with fellow protestors, riding a recently desegregated bus after a successful boycott or rallying from the pulpit. The one-room exhibition opening Friday shows the highs and lows of a career cut short.
The exhibit, “One Life: Martin Luther King, Jr.” opens June 28, 2013 and runs through June 1, 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery.
June 24, 2013
UPDATE: According to the National Zoo’s twitter account, the search that began this morning when staff discovered Rusty the red panda was missing has ended. The Zoo says Rusty has been found, crated and is headed back to the Zoo. He was found in the Adams Morgan neighborhood around 1:30 p.m. and will get an exam from the Zoo’s veterinary staff before settling in back home. The wait until he’s reintroduced to his home and fellow red panda, Shama, could be up to week, says Sarah Mulligan with the office of communications. “We just want to make sure he didn’t pick anything up,” she says. While the Zoo still isn’t sure how exactly Rusty got out, she did say that they received plenty of help from social media and were happy with that result.
The National Zoo reported that Rusty, a not yet one-year-old red panda, was missing from his enclosure after staff discovered his absence early Monday morning. They began a thorough search for the small creature, who has been with the Zoo since April.
Spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson told the Washington Post it was possible the red panda was sick, dead or stolen, saying they had to consider all possibilities. It was also possible the creature is hiding in a tree.
Rusty was finally spotted by a young woman in Adams Morgan who tweeted a photo of the little guy sneaking between some greenery. The Zoo came and collected him shortly after.
Watch the drama unfold on Twitter, from the start of the search to its happy conclusion:
At any given moment on the National Mall, 27 family photos are being taken, 13 bunny ears are being given and 8 eyes are going crossed. While those numbers might be made up, the sentiment surely isn’t. People just can’t help themselves when they at last wrangle their families into a day at the museums. Attention must be paid to such a feat. Equipped with digital cameras and iPhones, parents arrange children squinting into the sun and couples pose beneath their own outstretched arms.
Now the Smithsonian is asking you to help build a family album from all the many photos taken daily at and around the museums. Through September 2, visitors can upload their own shots to “America’s Family Album.” Selected photos will later become part of an exhibit about the visitor experience. Plus, for each photo submitted, Ford will donate $5 to the institution, up to $50,000. So, go ahead, say cheese!
June 21, 2013
It was a big day Thursday for the National Zoo’s six-month-old sloth bear cub born last December–what with the climbing and exploring and posing and all. It was the debut public appearance for the Zoo’s first sloth cub born in seven years, named Hank after a vote from fans on Facebook. And he’s a bit of a rarity nationally with only 18 zoos exhibiting the species. Taking to the terrain quite nicely, he’ll now be a regular at his Asia Trail home every morning from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. In case you missed his eventful first day, here are some photos from the Zoo.
June 19, 2013
Photography is said to be the truest representation of reality. The ability to capture still and moving image inspired artists to document life, rather than embellish it. Filmmaker Dziga Vertov inspired the genre cinéma vérité or truthful cinema. Today, photography maintains a special claim to objective truth alongside news stories. Rarely is the hand of the artist acknowledged in the making of a photograph.
But it’s everywhere in the work of New York-born, South Africa-based photographer Roger Ballen. A new exhibit at the African Art Museum, curated by fellow artist Craig Allen Subler, takes 55 works from Ballen’s nearly half-decade career shooting in black and white to illustrate the ways in which the artist has utilized the tools of drawing, namely mark-making and line, to create his unique aesthetic world.
Spanning from his early portraits to later, denser works that reference theater as much as photography, the exhibit, “Lines, Marks, and Drawings: Through the Lens of Roger Ballen,” shows just how thoroughly the concept of line infiltrates and structures his work across his entire career. Mangled hangers, clotheslines, stick figures drawn directly on the walls–the lines of Ballen’s photographs exist like totems, complete with their own psychic drama similar to Jackson Pollock’s early experiments with Jungian archetypes, or Pablo Picasso’s exploration of mythic figures like the minotaur. The exhibit moves roughly from portraiture to theater to a collaborative image-making that fuses the subject with line so completely that all that’s left is a peek of an arm or a disembodied head.
The artist, who spent nearly a year hitchhiking from Cairo to Cape Town as a young man, is also a geologist who claims citizenship in what he sees as the last generation of photographers working with black and white film. Though he has lived in South Africa for more than 30 years, his work maintains an outsider art aesthetic. Interior shots in the homes of rural South Africans, from his Platteland series, seem to exist at the precise moment chaos turns to order and vice versa: live animals exist alongside their more domesticated toy counterparts, white walls that are otherwise unadorned have smeared handprints or childish doodles scrawled right on the surface and people are typically in some state of undress.
In South Africa, the aesthetic has reached a certain counter culture cache embodied in the idea of Zef. Taken from the Afrikaans word for “common,” zef’s unofficial ambassador is the band Die Antwoord, which collaborated with Ballen on its video “I Fink U Freeky,” also included in the museum’s exhibit.
“They told me when they first saw [my] work that they stopped what they were doing for a year and went in a different direction,” says Ballen of the hip-hop-rave group who reached out to him to work on the video. He says their two styles organically fused and the whole video took only four and a half days to shoot.
When Ballen first saw the exhibit, he says it felt instantly right. “The exhibition is quite silent,” he says, pleased with the outcome. In fact, it’s almost eerily so. The aesthetic still hits just as hard when combined with the rambunctious music of Die Antwoord. Standing in the middle of the gallery space, surrounded by work from his entire career, Ballen says it’s exhilarating to confront himself, to look at what exactly has been guiding his work for so long. “It’s very gratifying,” he says. “Looking back at the work, you feel, well, at least I’ve preserved something through all those years. . .there is a line that runs through.”
“Lines, Marks, and Drawings: Through the Lens of Roger Ballen” is on view at the African Art Museum through February 9, 2014. Ballen will be at the museum Thursday, June 20, for an artist talk.