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In ancient Greek stories of the sphinx, the mythical watchguard would present travelers with a riddle to be solved; if they failed, she would devour them. Robin Rose is a sphinx of a different sort. In “Cypher,” his visual riddles and text juxtapose objects to create art that blends mystery, humor, and—like his clue-giving predecessor—danger: knives, hooks, and razor blades are hazards for Rose’s inquisitive travelers. Some of the artist’s cyphers display visual puns while others examine hypothetical situations: If you were to make a wreath of 50 connected guitar pedals, each with a different effect, what would the end result sound like? It’s a broad-reaching show, examining life and death, politics, history, and consumerism, but Rose pulls it off.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 11 A.M. TO 4 P.M. TUESDAY to SATURDAY, TO MAY 17 AT THE KATZEN ARTS CENTER, 4400 MASSACHUSETTS AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 885-1300.