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TO OCT. 31
Hamburg-born photographer and video artist Fabian Birgfeld studied architecture at Columbia and Princeton Universities, and he emerged from the academy with a profound ambivalence toward the crafting of public spaces. Sharply attuned to the emotional dislocation wrought by arty environs designed to facilitate transportation, Birgfeld has trained his lenses on the architectural voids that punctuate the experience of modern travel. In Ground Works I, hazy reflections of an airport concourse are captured in its polished floor; Köln I (pictured) disorientingly combines jagged views of an empty staircase. Only the scratched mirror in a triptych shot in the Paris Metro offers evidence of the human hand. Birgfeld seems to view vandalism and graffiti as individualistic assaults on the anonymity of spaces meant to accommodate the public for brief stretches; the scrolling steps seen in the kaleidoscopic box of the video sculpture Escalator are differentiated temporarily by the legs and torsos of passengers, and more permanently by the spray-painted tags on their risers. The life of the First World nomad is such a trendy subject that it was only a matter of time before the wired ‘n’ global buzz of a few years ago was supplanted by on-the-road ennui. Still, Birgfeld, who splits his time between Berlin and New York, handles his milieu with great sensitivity and a good eye. The artist had planned to attend this show’s opening last week before Isabel sent him packing, but he’ll return for a pre-closing meet-and-greet on Oct. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. 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, Oct. 31, at Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes, 812 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 289-1200. (Glenn Dixon)