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TO OCT. 4
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Like a modern-day Proust, Muriel Hasbun creates art from fleeting memoriesor, more often, from the memories of her ancestors and relatives. Hasbun, a Washingtonian, grew up in El Salvador with a Palestinian Christian father and a Jewish mother whose parents had fled Poland for France during the Holocaust. “Watched Over” includes a selection of works from Hasbun’s ongoing and intensely personal effort to document these memories through black-and-white photography (Hélène B./Hendla F. is pictured). Many of the exhibition’s works feature locations in Le Mont Dorethe French town where her grandmother hid from the Nazisand her grandparents’ possessions; other works document settings from Hasbun’s Catholic childhood in El Salvador. Standout images include The Ferocious Wolf, which features a vintage cartoon of a wolf in Nazi garb; Raymond, in which the face in a man’s passport photograph is partially obscured by a flamelike form; and All the Saints, an ethereal image of El Salvador’s Izalco volcano, overlaid with Arabic text that seems to rise from the volcano’s summit as if it were smoke or ash. If Hasbun’s photographic technique still relies heavily on hazy aesthetics and collage-like compositionsas it did during her last major Washington exhibition in 1999she has nonetheless begun to use great creativity in installation. In the gallery space, she has muted the room’s angles by hanging a series of heavy crimson curtains, and she has set out a pedestal with a pile of thorns native to El Salvador. Most strikingly, she has created a voice-over narrative, offering a fractured aural correlative that powerfully reinforces the kaleidoscopic visuals of her photographs. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Oct. 4, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Louis Jacobson)