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OCTOBER 28 & 29
In 1940, Jewish Berliner Charlotte Salomon was staying at her grandparents’ home in France when her grandmother killed herself. After the suicide, her grandfather revealed that Charlotte’s mother, aunt, and great-grandmother had also taken their own lives. The disclosure prompted an epiphany of sorts in the melancholic young painter, who rejected her family’s traditional response to unhappiness and instead began a series of autobiographical gouaches titled “Life or Theater?” Richard Dindo’s poignant documentary, Charlotte: “Life or Theater?,” travels Salomon’s word-encircled paintings—in which sentences and Munchlike figures intertwine—as their German text is read aloud. Their story is that of Salomon’s life: of her mother’s death, her father’s remarriage to an opera star, and Charlotte’s affair with her stepmother’s voice coach—set against a backdrop of Berlin’s burgeoning anti-Semitism. Salomon spent two years working obsessively on her project, and the completed series contains 769 paintings. But the Nazis had been closing in on her: She was deported and died at Auschwitz at age 26. Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, 7th & Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Nicole Arthur)