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TO MARCH 11
In Sight Unseen, Washington-area lawyer-turned-photographer Norman Carr creates multilayered street scenes that blend reality with reflections in plate-glass windows. The approach is not exactly new—Lee Friedlander pretty much wrote the book on the technique in the ’60s–and given this history, some of the show’s images add precious little to the genre, recapitulating old themes of torn posters, partly obscured graffiti, and headache-inducing visual scenarios. Yet Carr’s best works exert an almost palpable pull. With admirable frequency, Carr manages to dislocate his viewers’ sense of reality. (Embrace, Mexico City is pictured.) In Rest, the titular word—stenciled on a windowpane—hovers, disembodied, next to a pedestrian on the sidewalk; Looking at Tenleytown, one might swear that the image features an impossible four focal planes at once. Zocalo, Mexico City paints its otherwise ordinary urban bustle in the blocky language of cubism, whereas Dupont Circle Maids features the wavy stylings of futurism; Raleigh, N.C., Museum offers rectangular echoes that recall the ’60s New Wave, and the mural of World War II–era bombers in Airplanes, Washington, D.C. goes so far as to suggest magical realism. For all the visual fireworks in Carr’s oeuvre, the key to his success—when he achieves it—comes from a knack for making in-camera compositions that are as dead-on as if he had created them for a collage. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, to Thursday, March 11, at the Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th St. NW. Free. (202) 232-8674. (Louis Jacobson)