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TO OCTOBER 14
Here’s the conventional wisdom on Baltimore art: The scene’s all one big, rowdy blowout in an abandoned warehouse. It’s cheap, hierarchy-free, and ephemeral. The Baltimore artists featured in the Washington Project for the ArtsCorcoran’s “Exchange: Baltimore @ DC” show won’t change this perception. Even the best works are temporary. J.L. Stewart Watson’s Calfing 54*# features oblong chunks of sugar and corn syrup hanging from the ceiling by wires. It’s a mass of liquefying amber, slowly dripping onto a large sheet of white paper. Other works can’t go away fast enough. Jackie Milad’s wall mural features hastily penned ink drawings of disembodied heads with bleeding eyes, fangs, and springy, penis-like protuberances hanging from open mouths. On opening night, Ryan McCabe wore a coat outfitted with electronic sensors. Tugging a lapel or brushing at his shoulder triggered samples—pieces of a lecture on conformity, music loops recalling old educational films. In Chiara Giovando’s Come Jam With Me, gallerygoers were invited to play assorted cheap instruments in a pseudo-free-jazz romp, demonstrating what the Velvet Underground would’ve sounded like without tunes or talent. Finally, there are the small point-of-purchase boxes on the first floor, including USB drives covered in candy sprinkles, little inside-out stuffed animals, and photos of ritualistic self-mutilation—$20 and up, all priced to move. It’s fine to resist traditional ideas of presentation and the commodification of art, but if “Exchange” really does blur the line between art and life, then daily life comes out looking a little cheaper—just marking time with bad puns and deskilled aimlessness. “Exchange: Baltimore @ DC” is on view 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, to Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Warehouse Arts Complex, 1021 7th St. NW. Free. (202)783-3933. (Jeffry Cudlin)