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TO APRIL 30
The photographs of Maria Friberg are usually filed under “gender studies,” and it’s hard to argue with that taxonomy: In her large-scale color prints, the Swedish artist often portrays (usually good-looking) men and women in odd, vaguely gender-bending poses—such as a well-dressed man squatting as if he were a dog, or a man and a woman with similar hair and clothing sitting on a foggy, empty stage. But in “still lives,” her second solo show at Conner Contemporary Art, Friberg seems just as interested in toying with the artistic possibilities of skin. In still lives 2 (woman + dog)(pictured), a large dog and a model recline in similar poses on a flattened animal skin; there is a resonance between the white fur of the dog, the white dress of the model, and the white hide they rest on. In the near-surrealist still lives 3 (man in bookshelf), Friberg has wedged a napping male figure into a floor that’s completely stuffed with antiquarian books, arranged neatly spine to spine; in this one, the contrast comes from the subject’s smooth white clothing and skin and the leatherbound covers that constrain him. Sometimes, it’s the absence of exposed skin where it should be that matters, as in an image from a celebrated series in which Friberg got four men to don black suits and white shirts and jump into a swimming pool. (She photographed them from above looking nonplussed.) Still, Friberg’s most striking image in the Conner show may be one of a man lying on his side by a lake, surrounded by golden-toned sand and impenetrably murky water; in this image, it’s the supple skin of the inanimate world that draws you in. The show is on view Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., to Saturday, April 30, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Louis Jacobson)