There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
At the gates of Buckingham Palace, the Coldstream Guards are models of unflappable British stoicism. In Francis Alÿs’ 28-minute video, Guards, they wander aimlessly through modern London in their bearskin caps and scarlet tunics. Oddly ineffectual despite their assault rifles, their role as a security force has been made obsolete by London’s omnipresent surveillance cameras, which Alÿs evokes with high-angle shots. Each man hoists his weapon and falls smartly into line as he comes across a comrade; the drifters gradually form an imposing phalanx of 64. They own the streets—their boots (obsessively polished in a second video, Shoeshine) thunder on the pavement—until a parked sports car forces them onto the sidewalk. Underneath the funny hats, Alÿs implies, they’re just regular blokes, searching for a sense of purpose and belonging. The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Black Box, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 633-1000. (Alexander M. Belenky)