Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
The Tyranny of Distance
Certain albums are capable of crystallizing the moments when we first heard them, then triggering a heady rush of nostalgia on subsequent listens. The soaring riff that opens D.C.-formed Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ The Tyranny of Distance is enough to catapult me back to the summer when I was 18, driving down Route 7 with the windows open and the volume cranked up. But revisiting the album now, “Parallel or Together” is the track that really stands out. I’ve always loved its nervous, shuffling percussion and intricate wordplay, but the lyrics (which dwell on a dissolving relationship) are also strangely perfect for our prolonged state of quarantine. “We’re caught in a landslide, the minutes come tumbling down,” Leo sings, managing to capture the way time becomes elastic during moments that reshape our assumptions about the world. And later, “We’re really not together at all, but parallel” could just as easily describe the way Zoom calls and FaceTime don’t manage to deliver the same satisfaction as sitting in the same room with someone. In the face of so much uncertainty and pain, it’s a relief to find a song that attempts to make sense of feelings of displacement, loneliness, and betrayal—especially one that also offers Leo’s specific, gentle curiosity. The Tyranny of Distance is available to stream on Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music. Free. —Michelle Delgado
The Big Leap
Wheels, wires, and auto parts aren’t typically associated with artistic genius. But for her exhibit The Big Leap, artist Jean Jinho Kim transformed seemingly mundane objects into colorful, architectural designs that are as puzzling as they are nostalgic. The exhibit appeared in January in VisArts’ public 355 Pod Space. In her artist’s talk, Kim describes the process of repurposing utilitarian objects into 14 sculptures whose dimensionality can be seen in the accompanying video. For example, “The March” features downspouts out of context: released of their function, contorted, and painted fluorescent green. You might not immediately know it from the tangle of neon pipes, but Kim actually drew inspiration from the #MeToo movement. The parade of pink rain boots supporting the vibrant structure stand at the ready and in solidarity with each other—a slightly louder reference to the movement. The familiar objects evoke a sense of comfort, but their unlikely presentation challenges the viewer to consider the shapes anew. If you’re currently staying indoors, Kim’s sculptures might inspire you to view that leaky faucet or chipped teacup with a little more compassion. Following Kim’s lead, scavenge the house for old gadgets, pipes, and trinkets. Affix them together to create an entirely unique work of art that is simultaneously playful and deconstructive—or, at the very least, something new to look at. The images, video, and artist’s talk are available online at visartscenter.org. Free. —Emma Francois