In 1966, Benjamin Bellas’ uncle was lost at sea while serving in the Vietnam War. Bellas wouldn’t be born for another decade. In 1982, when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled, his uncle’s name was missing from the wall. Nearly 50 years after his uncle’s death, and a little less than a year after his name was added to the memorial, Benjamin Bellas is displaying work—including sculptures, artifacts belonging to his uncle, videos, and photographs—that meditates on the loss of a family member he never knew. His past works have a simple, almost Zenlike quality. Take one video, which depicts two cars stopped at an intersection: Both cars wait to turn until the moment their turn signals synchronize. Another work consists of two travel guides: one book about Hong Kong written in English, and the other a book about the American dream written in Cantonese. The books face one another, their pages interleaved. While his work will no doubt hit the chords of paradox, they’ll likely also resonate as visually poetic.
The exhibit is on view noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays to Dec. 21 at Flashpoint Gallery, 916 G St. NW. Free. (202) 315-1305. culturaldc.org.