There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
TO AUG. 30
Viewers may experience a sense of déjà vu scouring the photographs of Phil Borges, Wade Davis, Chris Rainier, and the duo of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher now on display in a Ralls Collection exhibit tied to the launch of a new National Geographic Society outreach initiative. That’s because the photographs in “Cultures on the Edge” are precisely the kind of exotic-yet-respectful, learned, and gloriously multicultural images that fill every issue of National Geographic magazinelithe African dancers, face-painted warriors of the South Pacific, Peruvian healers, red-robed Nepalese monks, and, of course, the requisite exposed breast. But if the show’s photographers seem to have internalized the Natty Geo aesthetic, most have carved out worthy stylistic touches of their own. Rainier creates large black-and-white prints that are sometimes achingly detailed, sometimes grainy and ghostly. Davis’ color images are largely conventional, but he dazzles with one photograph of Haitian Voudon practitioners that uses monochromatic shades of bluish green to capture indistinct human figures in the rain. The standout is Borges, who sets piercing portraits of children and adults against stunningand often activebackgrounds (Dawa 15, Drigung Valley, Tibet is pictured) such as goats being herded or camels nuzzling. Borges subtly hand-tones certain parts of these black-and-white photographs in low-key huesa technique that’s as old as the daguerreotype but that, in Borges’ careful hands, proves arrestingly up-to-date. “Cultures on the Edge” is on view from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, to Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Ralls Collection, 1516 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 342-1754. (Louis Jacobson)