Finally, someone’s going to give those snooty bike mechanics what for. The point of “Hipster Fascism,” an art exhibition at the Fridge, must be to tell those pointy vinyl heads and uptight sherry nerds—all the vegan pastry chefs who lived in Ivy City before it was cool—what everybody thinks of them. Or is it the other way around? Might “Hipster Fascism” be an authoritarian assembly, a Svenoniusian rally? Aux armes, citoyens!—but with a chill dress code and maybe a pirate radio hour?
Drat: “Hipster Fascism” is neither especially hip nor terribly fascist. It’s a downright populist exhibition, filled with art that expresses the sort of political sentiments that, these days, lead on MSNBC and trend on Twitter. Organized by Graham Boyle, “Hipster Fascism” is earnest and urgent in addressing police violence, cultural mayhem, and the value of black lives and real estate alike, though not without a few winks of its own.
Gregg Deal contributes several graphic works having to do with the cultural appropriation of Native Americana, but his message is a bit garbled. One painting shows what might be a woman wearing a headdress inside an official-looking seal. Around the oval’s perimeter are the words, “My Privilege Your Culture.” The spray-painted piece summons to mind the shameful persistence of the name of the Washington professional football team without saying anything about it per se, or really anything at all. This artwork by Deal hews so close to the style of Shepard Fairey that it could be a piece of appropriation all its own.
GAIA and LMNOPI, two popular street artists, offer up traditional fare: collage and paintings, respectively. Muralist artworks tend to lose their teeth in a gallery setting; works made with the inevitable yet unforeseeable street encounter in mind never manage to muster the same serendipity in more formal presentations. Even a punk alternative space like the Fridge can’t help but defang street artists’ work. Consumption is the true hipster fascism, or something.
There’s still some fun to be had in “Hipster Fascism,” though. Boyle and Ryan Florig built “Condo Suit,” a practicable men’s suit, from “liberated condo development banners,” per the gallery. “Watch Your Time,” a video by Florig, follows a character (played by local musician Bryan Gerhart of Baby Bry Bry) wearing “Condo Suit” as he goes about his day in the District: picking up a nitro iced coffee, dropping by the biergarten, walking a frou-frou dog in a tutu—doing Condo Suit Man things. Yeesh, that bagpipe soundtrack, though.
And there’s more fun to come: Eames Armstrong, the D.C. doyen of performance art, and other artists are adding to the show with live installations. But why “Hipster Fascism”? Maybe some of those performances will address those questions of authority and elitism implied by the title. As it stands, it’s more of a passive activist forum: inviting, even democratic.
516 1/2 8th St. SE. Free. thefridgedc.com