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to oct. 28
Like a number of husband-and-wife collaborators, Nicholas and Sheila Pye have turned their marriage into a subject for their art. And if the escalating violence in their latest film, A Life of Errors, is any sort of indicator, it’s time to call a therapist. In one scene, Sheila guides her barefoot and blindfolded husband through broken glass that’s been scattered around the dining room. Afterward, Nicholas seems perplexed by the shards he picks from his bloodied feet, only dimly aware of his complicity in this bizarre game of misplaced trust and trap-setting. His revenge involves having his equally blindfolded and vulnerable spouse jump rope in a ring of fire. There’s an obvious debt here to surrealist filmmaking: In their earlier film, The Paper Wall—also on view here—they take turns licking each other’s open, blinking eyes in a pair of startling close-ups, immediately recalling the eyeball mutilation scene in Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou. There are other kinds of Freudian weirdness included, from each spitting out long streams of milky fluid, to labored breathing and close-ups of perspiration-dappled rib cages, to shots of both spouses urinating in their underwear in unison. Both videos offer apt but disturbing metaphors for the subconscious maneuvering that can define intimate relationships. They’re also utterly artificial, as shown by the accompanying five chromogenic prints, each 4-foot square. Shorn of the ominous rumbling music and intervals of dread and inactivity, these stills seem downright playful—evidence of a game of dress-up and role-playing in which anything is permitted. The exhibition is on view from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, to Saturday, Oct. 28, at Curator’s Office, 1515 14th St. NW, Suite 201. Free. (202) 387-1008. (Jeffry Cudlin)