Common Ground

Given her presence in the District’s art scene, it’s hard to believe that Kathryn Cornelius has yet to have a solo show. After all, it’s only Cornelius and a scant one or two other artists representing performance art in a town that’s never taken a shine to the tradition. And her work sticks out—consider the bogus red-carpet awards sequence she staged during the opening of the artDC international art fair in April this year. Perhaps accordingly, her first solo show with Curator’s Office feels more like an honorary recognition than the sort of work that viewers familiar with her public performances might expect. In fact, she’s shown some of the works before, including a series of photographs called “Reach,” in which she uses a low-fi, tin-can telephone line to parley with nature; these might be her best-known works, if only owing to the fact that they’re photographs—the most accessible (and showable) medium she works in. Other photographs taken in Iceland in November 2006 expand on the communication theme, with interior narratives manifested by the external world. Cornelius’ playful side is represented by a newer work, Common Ground (version 1.0), a video slide show featuring photographic triptychs. Below each successive triptych runs reductive, sarcastic subtitles, which serve to govern the photographs; onomatopoeia and punctuation marks correspond with the images, stressing a darkly comic, defeatist reaction to myriad human experience. Another video, Return, doesn’t share the feel of her other works; it is, however, the piece most like her live performance work—whose absence is unfortunate in this show. The exhibition is on view from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Dec. 22, at Curator’s Office, 1515 14th St. NW, Suite 201. Free. (202) 387-1008.

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