There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Yuri Schwebler: The Spiritual Plane
At his peak, Yuri Schwebler was a major presence in the D.C. art scene. Now, 30 years after his death by suicide at 47, Schwebler is getting a long-awaited retrospective at the American University Museum that spotlights his minimalism- and earth-art-inspired conceptual artworks. Schwebler’s career was meteoric. “Within three years of being discharged from the Army Reserves and Walter Reed’s psychiatric ward, he managed to have two museum shows and an appearance on national television—all without a college degree, much of a track record in Washington, or anywhere else for that matter,” writes curator John James Anderson (who’s been an art critic for Washington City Paper). Schwebler, an immigrant from Yugoslavia, was best known for his 1974 work that turned the Washington Monument into a sundial. His inspiration came when he realized he had never seen the obelisk’s shadow because it was so big; he would eventually discover that the shadow moved at four feet per minute, making it feel like “you can actually see the earth move.” But after relocating to New York in 1980, Schwebler had one solo exhibition, in 1982, and never exhibited again. Most of Schwebler’s works were ephemeral and are represented in the retrospective through photographic documentation. This made it easier to move the exhibit online during the coronavirus pandemic, Anderson says. “It makes as much sense to be a slideshow on the internet, where more people can access it,” he says. The online catalog features essays by Anderson and former Washington Post architecture critic Benjamin Forgey; plus, a July gallery talk with Anderson and AU museum director and curator Jack Rasmussen is archived online. The exhibition is available at american.edu and the catalog is available at auislandora.wrlc.org. Free. —Louis Jacobson
Do you associate certain types of people with goodness, moral purity, attractiveness, or foreignness? Visit Harvard’s implicit bias test portal if you can psych yourself up enough to see your results laid bare. This batch of recognition, association, archetype sorting, and image choice tasks will yield scores for various prejudices. This international research cooperation was created to serve as a public “virtual lab” for hidden bias recognition. By requiring takers to sort through pairings instantly, the test compels snap judgments and introduces a time penalty that makes it hard to trick. Possible results include slight, moderate, and strong labels of bias. And in 2011, the team released a spinoff site: At Project Implicit Mental Health, you can do additional tests that measure the implicit associations you have in relation to yourself. Some gauge, for example, the extent to which you associate yourself with anxiety, poor health, negativity, alcoholism, and sadness. Anonymous data is made publicly available for scientists and used to map implicit bias nationwide, including in D.C. The test has been granted a Golden Goose Award from the Library of Congress and funding from the National Institutes of Health. There’s no true quantitative “screening” for racism, and these assessments, though well-circulated, are not foolproof—and there’s controversy about their interpretation. For curiosity’s sake, however, it’s useful to know what your psyche has done with what you’ve been taught. Though the knowledge is no panacea, it still can have value. And if you’re hoping to rid your subconscious of discriminatory debris, this isn’t a terrible place to start. The project is available at implicit.harvard.edu. Free. —Viktoria Nagudi