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TO JULY 31
Bashful gallerygoers beware: Conner Contemporary Art’s latest group show depicts a man fellating 17 total strangers in a park. If that doesn’t grab you, there’s always the photograph of the Chicago town house where Richard Speck murdered eight student nurses in 1966, the minister-cum-performance-artist spoofing organized religion, or the carefully painted scenario of a man molesting a bunny. In Seventeen Strangers (Subjugation), Joe Ovelman documents his sexual encounters with cruisers in New York City’s Central Park, offering them oral sex (and an anonymous place in art history) if they’ll wear an old jacket of his father’s during the act. After the shock wears off, viewers will notice that the near-identical images offer subtle variations in how the recipients accept their gift. In the Speck-house image, and in a separate photograph of a Salem-witch-trial locale, P. Elaine Sharpe adapts Gerhard Richter’s out-of-focus stylings, lending disreputable subject matter an enigmatic gloss. The Rev. Ethan Acres puts an offbeat spin on the Christian life, posing for the punning photograph Exercising Demons #1 on a stair-climbing machine and, in other images, attempting to raise roadkill from the dead in Las Vegas. Marc Dennis paints small-scale oils, but with such edgy subject matter as two mice held upside down, sex organs out, and Picasso Explaining Cubism With a Rabbit (pictured), in which the unseen artist twists a bunny’s face into an unnatural shape. All of this outrageousness makes Sarah Beddington’s loop video Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush look downright ordinary: It merely chronicles a display in a kitschy souvenir shop in which a toy horse chases after a toy pig, seemingly attempting to mount it. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and by appointment Sundays and Mondays, to Saturday, July 31, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Louis Jacobson)