It’s not enough to say that Troy Brauntuch’s photographic works compel a second glance; often, they demand a squint. Brauntuch, an alum of the 1970s Pictures Generation school, makes photos and drawings so dark that the eye struggles to discern the image from the blackness. The result is a schism between sight and comprehension that underlies even the artist’s sunniest works. The images that turn up—a stack of collared shirts, a dead bird at the foot of the stairs, a cat stretched in a flowerbox—seem at first strangely pedestrian. Upon further inspection, however, the commonplace develops provocative layers of cultural significance. The subject of Brauntuch’s art lies somewhere between these images and their viewer. Sure, Brauntuch’s not the first to deconstruct cultural identity by exposing the process of subjective experience; but he does makes you work for it—and it’s worth the eyestrain. Brauntuch discusses his work at 7 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th St. & Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 633-1000.