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


As much as I admire works that seek to bridge science and art, my admiration often extends more to the artworks’ intellectual dimension than to their aesthetic impact. A few years ago, when I wrote about artists and musicians who were experimenting with fractal-based art, one musician confided that it had taken “a few listenings” before he warmed to his own fractally generated compositions. So it is with “EMBODYdisembody,” a multimedia exhibit of works by seven artists who build their pieces around medical images. (Sabrina Raaf’s Anonymous Rib Cage: Reliquary Series is pictured.) Even in an age as relentlessly technological as ours, the notion that X-rays and MRIs can be art is compelling. Still, visitors should expect neither warmth nor exhilaration from the show; the most pervasive sensation is clinicality. Alan Stone’s 1992 installation, Vigil, comprises a bed and chair made of chain-link fencing material and a pair of backlit thoracic X-rays. Ilyse Soutine’s 1990 Kleenex and Stand is a life-size photograph of a tissue box resting atop a stainless steel dolly, set against a hospital-green backdrop. The show’s standout artist, Debra Kaufman, pasted beautiful heads from Renaissance artworks onto old medical textbook images of buboe-covered and musculoskeletally deformed patients. Grim indeed. Then again, no one ever said art has to be pretty. On view Friday to Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. to Sunday, July 11, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 17th & New York Ave. NW. $3 (suggested donation). (202) 639-1700. (Louis Jacobson)