The white-collar 9-to-5 job is regularly portrayed as a conventional part of most Westernized societies. But without context, the idea seems arbitrary, even absurd. This subtext comes across in Jamie Uys’ South African comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy and Godfrey Reggio’s visual poem Koyaanisqatsi, and it’s the theme of local artist Ben Tolman’s latest show at Flashpoint, “Civilized.” Tolman, an American University graduate, finds inspiration in how modern life, with all its repetitive motions, ultimately limits us. In one drawing, a cross-section of a skyscraper reveals scores of nude human figures reading books, typing on computers, and shopping for clothes. In another (shown), an aerial shot reveals how a neighborhood, with its uniform domiciles and symmetrical streets and power lines, looks more like the face of a microchip than a place where little humans would live. Though the structure of our capitalist-consumer society will likely shackle your life and humanity forever, you can at least pretend to break free from its restraints by thinking through Tolman’s work. The exhibition is on view Wednesdays through Saturdays noon to 6 p.m., to March 28, at Flashpoint Gallery, 916 G St. NW. Free. (202) 315-1305. culturaldc.org.

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