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TO MAY 29
Countless historical events have inspired compelling art, from the Last Supper to Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. So it should be no surprise, three-plus years after the Florida presidential recount, to find art emerging from that particular tragicomedy. “The Hole Shebang,” a photographic installation by Miami-based artists Eduardo del Valle and Mirta Gomez, records the use of the recount’s raw materials—three ballots cast in November 2000 in Miami-Dade County—to make unexpectedly whimsical constructions that manage to capture the debacle’s absurdist edge. (An untitled work is pictured.) With the help of boldly colored backdrops, del Valle and Gomez turned humble punch cards into intriguing forms—a thin zip that approximates a tightrope being walked; a circle that looks like a NASA rendering of the sun; and a mess of chad that, from a distance, could pass for sunbathers on a beach. Each of these, the artists helpfully explain in the exhibition’s accompanying text, is a Florida archetype. Cleverly, the images are arranged haphazardly on the wall, mirroring the holes in the ballots themselves. “The Hole Shebang” is paired with “Vote,” a show of 17 electoral-themed photographs by various artists, ranging from dramatic action shots of Adlai Stevenson, John and Robert Kennedy, and Richard Nixon to portrayals of voters in the midst of partisan passions. The most wrenching photos in either show, however, feature an African-American hand gripping a South Carolina voter-registration certificate in 1962 and, four years later, a just-registered black voter in Alabama pacing his dimly lit front porch with a rifle. The shows are on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, May 29, at Hemphill Fine Arts, 1027 33rd St. NW. Free. (202) 342-5610. (Louis Jacobson)