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TO FEB. 28
Holocaust imagery aside, the art of being a German seems to be the art of being one’s self. Like so many young artists, the 28 college photo-design students who contributed to this exhibition fixate on matters of personal identity. Of course, their country’s fraught past adds significant resonance, as Rico Hofmann’s Without Title demonstrates; his images of train tracks and suitcases show how commonplace things can be rendered ominous by history. Most of the work, however, is closer to home. In Alexander Gugg’s The Art of Being a German Foreigner, photographs (one is pictured) of second-generation Germans are matched to the remarks of their subjects, who feel disconnected from both their current residences and their ancestral homelands. Sevilay Kirmaz’s paired photos show a teenager dressed in traditional German clothing in a Turkish environment—and vice versa. Photos of ethnically German students flanked by snapshots of their progenitors naturally inspire questions about the actions of previous generations. Some of the work is less personal, but it’s no less dedicated to the everyday: Tatjana Kunath’s Beer Cult-ure collates photos of brews with alcohol-appropriate jokes and toasts; Marie Therse Cramer’s Four Meals locates Germanness in pickles, dark bread, and cold cuts; and Sebastian van den Akker’s Served spells out its clichés atop exemplary foodstuffs. Order is also a theme, whether in the remarkably similar houses of Anja Baecker’s Territory or the fetishistic arrangement of waste products of Frauke Thielking’s New Order—which extends obsessive Teutonic organization all the way to, yes, the toilet. The show is on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, to Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Goethe Forum, 814 7th St. NW. $5. (202) 289-1200. (Mark Jenkins)