Hirshhorn, Zola Jesus, Green Screens & The Sublime

A beautiful woman at the Hirhhorn standing in front a wall that reads 'Sanity'

A beautiful woman at the Hirhhorn standing in front a wall that reads ‘Sanity’

Friday night was ‘Hirshhorn After Hours,’ which we went to four years ago. We loved it and I’ve kept checking for it, but this the first time I’ve seen it come back.

It was done for the opening of two exhibitions, Days of Endless Time and The Hub of Things. The former is a new exhibition of video installations and the latter was a somewhat disappointing curation of art from the existing collection.

The Hub of Things is advertised as a fresh look at some of the best works from the collection, but the selection and arrangement and overall curation just didn’t make any sense to me. I expect an exhibit to be something beyond ‘hey look at this cool stuff,’ but for me, this didn’t rise above that.

Days of Endless Time was cool, though. The first two installations were very affecting, especially the very first one, which featured a cellist with her back to us playing on an impossibly green plateau among the Swiss Alps. When she played, the sound echoed back, sometimes nearly perfectly, what she just played. The description of the piece (Su-Mei Tse’s L’Echo) talked about ‘the sublime.’ As soon as I saw that word – sublime – it really clicked. It’s a very Romantic vision of the sublime. Think of Wordsworth visits to the Alps or the Swiss born Rousseau’s (who is really the link between the Enlightenment and the Romantics) book about his walks or also Kant’s idea of the sublime (the noble sublime and the beautiful sublime; not really the terrifying sublime, in this case).

The singer Zola Jesus played outside. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t any dancing, but I liked her music. It was sort of the bastard child of Faith and the Muse and the Cranes playing a combination of Tori Amos covers and gothic noise musical settings of the final, scribbled ramblings of a poisonously suicidal Taylor Swift.

Also, there was done objection to the wearing of my super awesome Speed Racer t-shirt. But then a security guard walked up to me and yadda yadda I sang the Speed Racer theme song and there was general agreement that my super awesome Speed Racer t-shirt is super awesome.

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