We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
A quick survey of your living room is bound to find lots of objects that have fallen into disuse, but at some juncture, even that weird bucket or busted table had a point to it. The truly useless object—which is the subject of Project 4’s exhibit, “Useless”—is rarer and a little harder to qualify. Some of the things featured in the show have a fairly straightforward art utility. You can’t ride or inflate Benjamin Jurgensen’s From Nothing to Less Than Something, a pop sculpture of a tricycle with an attached tire pump made with wood and painted in neon latex paint, but it serves just fine as a gag piece done in clean lines. Nor would you want to wear anything from Cory Ingram’s Crude line of petroleum perfumes, served up in mock-up bottles with a fashionable ad campaign. The real performers in “Useless” are the objects designed to frustrate the user. Mark Wentzel’s Xlounge (pictured) looks like an absurdly obese version of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, inflated beyond the point that you could realistically sit on it except by mounting it like a supersized beach ball. But black leather and an ottoman usually signal comfort, so the thought of trying is still strangely appealing. David Ruy’s and Karel Klein’s notion of furniture is literally off the wall: Prototype of Wallpaper Furniture amounts to laminated Maplex siding that protrudes from the wall or floor on which it’s installed, rising in rounds that would serve as seats and jutting out in planks that would be shelves. It’s a prototype because the designers have yet to find a way to practically execute the piece—just the thing for the formalist with a nesting instinct. The exhibition is on view from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, to Saturday, Sept. 8, at Project 4, 903 U St. NW. Free. (202) 232-4340.