We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Jason Zimmerman is upfront about his motivations as a photographer: “The deadpan approach taken towards the works in this exhibit,” he writes, “reflects some of my deepest concerns in working with photography…my desire to present candidly an often humorous, but ultimately melancholy, portrayal of mostly obscure but forgotten objects.” Yet in an age when photographers ranging from Gabriel Orozco to Bertien Van Manen are perfecting the art of the deadpan, Zimmerman’s 10 color images at Irvine Contemporary fail to strike a novel note, however whimsical he believes his graffiti-riddled stop signs, cheesy, heart-shaped candy boxes, and desecrated Bibles to be. His photograph of a blood-spattered, partially skinned deer trespasses on a theme of dead wildlife already thoroughly explored by Edward Weston and Frederick Sommer; his unseaworthy-looking model boat in a curtained, puppet-sized stage calls to mind the superior still-life projects of Arthur Tress; and the office in a pipefitting plant that features discarded Food Lion bags, ratty boxes, and pictures of zaftig biker chicks pales before Birney Imes’ indelible photographs of Mississippi juke joints and roadhouses. But if these works seem supernumerary, Zimmerman has at least shown a knack for landscape work, most notably the photograph of the Park Police’s Rock Creek Park horse corral. This work—a meditation on dusky brown tones circumscribed by white-painted fencing and punctuated by a smattering of bright-orange traffic cones—is as graciously understated as his other subject matter is vexing. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (to Feb. 11; see City List for other dates) at Irvine Contemporary, 1710 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 332-8767. (Louis Jacobson)