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The Velvet Curtain is a composite of three elements: the Velvet Revolution, the nonviolent movement that freed Czechoslovakia from communism; the infamous Iron Curtain; and a euphemism for femininity. “Behind the Velvet Curtain” at the Katzen features female Czech artists who, like the exhibit’s components, are both tough and ladylike. Many of the works aggressively comment on gender disparity and sexuality, from Lenka Klodova’s photographs of a disembodied nude female torso in various household settings, to Erika Bornova’s sculptures of bejeweled women with ghastly faces offering themselves up for sex. Best is Klodova’s “Structures,” a spherical photo diorama of couples like paper dolls. Each adult leans out of their space to give their neighbor a kiss—either as a condemnation of the breakdown of the family unit, or in support of the loosening of prudish social structures.

THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 11 A.M. to 4 P.M., TUE.-SAT., TO MAY 17 AT THE KATZEN ARTS CENTER, 4400 MASSACHUSETTS AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 885-1300.