Want art that’s grim? Check out “Directions,” the dual exhibit of works by Cyprien Gaillard and Mario Garcia Torres. The centerpiece of Gaillard’s offering is a 30-minute, three-part video showing scenes from a massive gang brawl in a Russian apartment complex, a light show projected on a soon-to-be-razed housing project, and a bleak landscape of Russian highrises, all of which are set to an ironically up-tempo soundtrack by the French musician Koudlam. The video is needlessly long, and too short of context to be more than partially appreciated. By contrast, Garcia Torres’ meditation on the abandoned Grapetree Bay Hotel on St. Croix, is impressively coherent, documenting the hotel’s decrepitude through an old-fashioned slide show and a strikingly catchy, Caribbean-influenced soundtrack by Mario López Landa, piped into the darkened space by a similarly old-fashioned record player. By themselves, the images of the tumbledown hotel are rather indifferent, but when they’re combined with the music, the message of human impermanence comes through loud and clear.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. DAILY TO MARCH 27, 2011 AT THE HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN, INDEPENDENCE AVE. AND 7TH ST. SW. FREE. (202) 633-1000.