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TO MARCH 10
Americans are wimps. And though we can’t seem to get enough of reality-based television, we really don’t like dealing with the hard truths of our collective pastsuch as the fact that we’ve got a couple of hundred years of human-rights abuses to atone for. Let’s face it, we don’t want to remember the atrocities committed against Native Americans, or the horrors of African-American chattel slavery, or the World War II-era internment of Japanese-Americans. But, every once in a while, someone like David Levinthal airs our dirty laundry. Levinthalwho has also done a photographic series on the myths of the American Westwanted to examine post-Civil War America. The result is “Blackface,” an exhibition that depicts so-called Negro memorabilia. His work, like the silhouettes of Kara Walker or the films of Spike Leewho used parts of Levinthal’s series for Bamboozledbrings to the surface all sorts of skeletons we wish we could keep in the closet. At once abominable and fascinating, images such as Untitled #05 (pictured) are important artifacts; according to Levinthal, they are “in many ways…white memorabilia, made by whites, for whites, to perpetuate racism,” but at the same time they “mirror the social history of this country…referencing a South that didn’t exist.” The exhibit is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, to Saturday, March 10, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW, Second Floor. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Maori Karmael Holmes)