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Many of Wayne Barrar’s photographs seem utterly mundane. A row of urinals. A cluster of cubicles. An office break room. But look closely and you’ll notice intrusions of rock into the spaces he’s photographing, like marshmallow oozing out of a s’more. These mundane office spaces are all located underground, often far underground, filling up excavations from defunct mining operations. Barrar, a New Zealander, has traveled in his home country, Australia, and a variety of American states in search of nouveau subterranea. Some of the repurposed spaces he’s found make sense—storage for old films, a paintball facility—but others offer a wondrous sense of oddity, such as the glass-windowed office with a computer, a bookshelf, and an autographed baseball that looks out on rock pillars and a trio of dusty-looking Christmas trees. More back story would have been nice, but credit Barrar for opening our eyes to a largely invisible frontier.
The exhibit is on view 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. (202) 885-1300.