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TO AUG. 27
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Perhaps you’ve heard this story before: Real-estate agent Jonathan Harker travels East to meet an eccentric nobleman who wants to buy a house in a major European city. In German artist Johnny de Brest’s retelling of Bram Stoker’s fantasy, however, the city is Berlin rather than London, and the ominous aristocrat—here called Vladracul—lives not in Transylvania but Oswiecim, a place better known by its Germanized name: Auschwitz. De Brest presents his updated saga as a wall-mounted photo novel in 12 chapters, with images (in both harsh artificial color and high-contrast black-and-white) that could be stills from a Fassbinder film. The story invokes recent German history, from the Nazi era to the new Berlin of pounding techno and thumping redevelopment. Some of the man-monster creatures recall the films of Matthew Barney, and the lurid local-color details—Mina Harker gets gang-raped at Marlene Dietrich’s grave—suggest a concept album that David Bowie never got around to making during his Berlin phase. (A soundtrack of late-’70s Bowie, Iggy, and Eno would be apt.) It could be argued that Dracula, a fairly dopey novel, can’t bear the weight of de Brest’s allusions to fascism, genocide, and recent attacks on immigrants. But Stoker’s story has left its origins behind and become a modern myth, claimed and reclaimed by Murnau, Herzog, and more. De Brest’s vision of a vampiric Germany is particularly bleak: There are no silver bullets to prevent the next outbreak of bloodlust. 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 Friday, Aug. 27, at the Goethe-Institut, 812 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 289-1200. (Mark Jenkins)