By Mark Jenkins
Published in the Washington Post, April 1, 2016
Transfiguration is a natural subject for visual art, which is also in the business of altering substances and perceptions. If there are monsters involved, so much the better. For an upcoming book, “Mirror Mirrored,” Corwin Levi and Michelle Aldredge asked artists to illustrate stories from one of the great compendiums of grotesqueries — the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales. The results are on display at Washington Project for the Arts, currently populated by characters such as Snow White and Little Red Cap (a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood). In Paul Miller/DJ Spooky’s update of the latter’s fable, the wolf emerges from a forest whose tree trunks resemble a product bar code.
Most of the work is not especially ominous. Brittany Denigris, cleverly and minimally, alludes to the story of thieves who stole the moon with a video of a hand that hides a light, plunging the frame into darkness. Equally shadowy is Joseph Keckler’s video of a youth who sings an aria from Wagner’s “Siegfried,” an opera partly derived from a Grimm tale. Perhaps the eeriest image is Rachel Perry’s manipulated photo of a two-handed arm, inspired by a story about a man who chops off his daughter’s hands. But the starkest piece is Carrie Mae Weems’s photograph with text, “Mirror Mirror,” which predates the project. Rather than ponder an imaginary ogre, it peers at a real one: white-dominated society’s narrow idea of female beauty.
Mirror Mirrored: Art Meets the Monsters On view through April 15 at Washington Project for the Arts, 2124 Eighth St. NW. 202-234-7103. wpadc.org/exhibitions .
April 1, 2016