We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


“Sometimes I feel like I’m Tina Turner, and hip-hop is Ike. Sometimes I think I’m running away, and hip-hop says, ‘but I loooves you.’” Susan Smith-Pinelo’s words, taken from an interview last year, characterize more than just her own love-hate relationship with hiphop music and culture. Girls and women everywhere struggle to reconcile feminist sensibilities with a love of the boom bap. The big question: Why do we love it when, so often, it treats us so bad? As innovative and influential as hiphop culture has been, its portrayal of women—in both lyrics and image—is, at best, limited. The genre pretty much adheres to the same female archetypes that have categorized black women since the days of chattel slavery—either whore or sexless nurturer. In her video installation piece Dances With Hip Hop, Smith-Pinelo vertically stacks three television sets—each displaying a different section of a woman’s body. (“A head, a pair of tits, and an ass,” as she puts it.) The images definitely won’t remind you of your dear old mama, but they don’t scream “video ho” either; they fall uncomfortably in the middle, which is where most women of color live. Smith-Pinelo deconstructs hiphop culture in a humorous, titillating way that is free of disdain or disgust. The underlying tone of her work suggests that, unlike Ike and Tina, she and hiphop might be able to work things out. The show is on view from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Wednesday, and Thursday; and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday to Sunday, Mar. 3, at Fusebox, 1412 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 299-9220. (Sarah Godfrey)