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TO JAN. 14
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The top of Lenny Kravitz’s wang, resplendent with some sort of shiny wang-jewelry, is just one of the treasures uncovered by former Rolling Stone photographer Mark Seliger’s new exhibition at Govinda Gallery, “In My Stairwell,” the first show of creative-folk portraits from his new book of the same name. Also on view are Heidi Klum’s buttcrack, Aunt Petunia’s (actor Fiona Shaw’s) left breast, and Johnny Knoxville hanging from hooks. Strangely satisfying sights, all of them, but what’s most impressive about Seliger’s collection of black-and-white platinum palladium prints is how the countless small details—Ravi Shankar’s long toenail, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s long cigarette ash (pictured)—give way to the project’s huge scope. The stairwell of the title, in Seliger’s New York studio, provides a 150-year-old brick-wall backdrop and the common denominator against which his subjects were free to fill space however they wanted; the pictures range from straight portraiture to snippets of theater. The only light comes from the stairwell’s skylight, sometimes forcing slow shutter speeds and leading to blurred elements (Tony Hawk’s skateboard and hands) and images (the whole of Luciano Pavarotti’s up-close portrait). But this is part of the story, too, and reveals as much about the subjects’ natures as it does about Seliger’s painstaking process. Indeed, “[o]ne of the great challenges of this book was tailoring each photo in order to accommodate the great range of individuals I worked with,” writes Seliger in his book. “Sometimes the shoots were conceptual and other times they had more to do with how the subjects viewed themselves rather than how I viewed them.” Ah, creative types. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Jan. 14, at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. (202) 333-1180. (Anne Marson)