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A statue at the Mexican Cultural Institute winked at me last weekend. Encased in a pedestal, artist Xavier Rodriguez was made up to look like the ceramic bust of Mexican folk hero Jesus Malverde, a genuine bust of which rested on an identical pedestal across the room. When he wasn’t looking straight at his twinned image, Rodriguez followed visitors around the room with his eyes. In the piece, titled Ladron que roba a ladron (“The Thief That Steals From the Thief”) Rodriguez stole the identity of the Robin Hood figure—and the show. No piece better exemplifies the title of “ID-entity,” the season-opening exhibit for Transformer, organized in part by the Institute. The show features 10 artists grappling with their identities as young Mexican urbanites (all work in Mexico City). Some revert to childhood, such as Edith Pons and Amaranta Sanchez. Pons, inspired by Japanese culture, sculpts a spread of sweets and mushrooms that look to come straight out of either Alice in Wonderland, or an Easy-Bake Oven. Sanchez’s video has the feel of a dark fairy tale, with ducklings, an apple (perhaps poisoned?) and a toy-piano soundtrack. Then there’s Ricardo Harispuru, who denies his figurines an identity in his series “Ostrich Area,” in which mannequins hide their heads in a briefcase, a fire extinguisher, an organ, and a garbage can—a comical, jarring vision in the grandeur of the surroundings.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW TO SUNDAY, OCT. 18, FROM 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M. MONDAY-FRIDAY, to Oct. 28, AT THE MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE, 2829 16TH ST. NW, AND 1 P.M. TO 7 P.M. WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY AT TRANSFORMER, 1404 P ST. NW. FREE. (202) 483-1102.