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TO JUNE 27
Forget the mere handful of interlocking story lines from Amores Perros. There’s enough going on in Mexico City, a metropolis of 20 million people, to justify a documentary project in which 250 artists produce 2,000 photographs for a 1,500-page book. By necessity, this kaleidoscopic project has been boiled down to just a few dozen works for an exhibition at the Art Museum of the Americas, but even a sampling offers a bracing mix of sensory impact and sociocultural insight. The show is organized alphabetically, encyclopedia-style (the “DF” in the title refers to “Distrito Federal,” shorthand for Mexico’s capital region), with each image or grouping given a one-word handle that sums up a tiny piece of the city’s mosaic, from Azotea (“rooftop”) to Zócalo (the city’s central square). Visually, the works run the gamut from black-and-white street photographs to lush images of the decadent upper crust, and from faux-naive snapshots of pop-culture objects (Manon Amen’s Boing is pictured) to elegant aerial vistas. Most striking are a series of backlit lenticular works that shift as the viewer changes position, like holograms. Sharply written captions accompany the images—sometimes frank (discussions of widespread kidnapping and the piracy of consumer products), sometimes whimsical (Mexico City’s penchant for Winnie the Pooh and painted gas-tank doors). A sharp sense of humor emerges in explorations of Chicle (photographs of gum stuck to the undersides of tables), Taco (an image of a rolled-up carpet, not a meal), and Obstáculo (a matrix of out-of-place traffic cones, boxes, and bollards set by citizens to save parking spaces or otherwise complicate the city’s daily life). The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, to Sunday, June 27, at the Art Museum of the Americas, Organization of American States, 201 18th St. NW. Free. (202) 458-6016. (Louis Jacobson)