TO APRIL 15

I looked forward to trips to the post office when I was a child, but not out of any budding interest in philately. No, the chance to gape at the wall of “Wanted” posters was too much to pass up. Those mug shots and police sketches of fugitives turned the words “innocent until proven guilty” upside down: How could those high-contrast, black-and-white faces not have committed the frightening crimes they were accused of? Taryn Simon’s “The Innocents: Headshots” stands up for the idea of presumed innocence at a time when it’s been warped by years of America’s Most Wanted and Cops. Simon presents her subjects—individuals (mostly men and disproportionately minorities) exonerated by DNA evidence after serving prison time for crimes (usually rape) they did not commit—in vibrant color, their large, desperately human faces (Paula Gray is pictured) the antithesis of the milk-carton-quality photography often used to convict them. An accompanying hardback exhibit guide goes deeper, showing the same subjects with their families, at work, where they were arrested, and, in one striking case, arm in arm with an alleged victim. While these images would be a welcome addition to the exhibition, a detailed history of each “crime” and a documentary film featuring Simon’s subjects complement her efforts. It all makes us re-examine our thinking about “super predators” and the justice system at a time when discovery of a wrongful execution is only one DNA test away. The exhibition runs through Saturday, April 15, at the Provisions Library, 1611 Connecticut Ave. NW, 2nd Floor. Free. (202) 299-0460. (Justin Moyer)

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