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to sept. 29
“Conversions” comes together by fits and starts, despite a premise that’s lost on both artists and organizers. Conceived as a collaboration between the Washington Project for the ArtsCorcoran and Arlington’s Ellipse Arts Center, the juried exhibition drew from “site-specific installation proposals to interpret and transform the space”—except, apparently, for its number of pieces that aren’t site-anything in nature. Take, for example, Ami Martin Wilbur’s Three Fates, a tripartite array of 600 aluminum coils strung up over three windows along one wall: The coil-covered windows form a triptych, though it’s not clear why—the piece seems arbitrarily adapted to fit the building. If Wilbur’s submission doesn’t exactly revise its space, Susan Eder and Craig Dennis’ collaborative photographs don’t even try: clouds in the shape of letters (a typeface wittily titled “New Cloud Roman”) would spell out the same phrase on any wall. All the photography in the show raises the same question—“Why here?”—but other works hit the mark. For Address, Kathryn Cornelius chose a cramped closet, lined it with white marble garden rocks and white picket-fence beams, and suspended from the ceiling white plastic lawn furniture—a vagina dentata for the suburban set. Renee Butler occupies an entire room with Movement in B flat (pictured), a pair of videos projected simultaneously onto a broken grid of panels and mirrors; the installation breaks up busy video from Venice and Times Square, like a walk-in Viewfinder. Special allowance must be made for Michele Kong’s Reticula, a massive lattice composed entirely from hot glue; the piece lacks correspondence with its space, but the contrast between its seeming fragility and implausible corporeality more than makes up for the technical foul. Typically, site-specific shows are neither curated nor juried—the good pieces in “Conversions” suffer from the fact that the show’s organizers put the cart before the horse. “Conversions” is on view from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, to Friday, Sept. 29, at the Ellipse Arts Center, 4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington. Free. (703) 228-7710. (Kriston Capps)