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Sometimes, photography exhibits are notable for a small number of images that stand above the rest. And sometimes they’re notable for offering a steady, coherent series. The seventh annual “Mirror to the World” exhibition of documentary photography at Glen Echo’s PhotoWorks falls into the latter category. (Disclosure: The curator, Frank Van Riper, photographed my wedding.)
David Myers goes old-school, using grainy black-and-white to catalogue four years of Holy Week celebrations in a variety of towns in Sicily (middle). Some of Myers’ images exhibit touches of modernity—in one, a cartoon character on a sign kicks a soccer ball—but most look like they could have been taken decades ago, or (had there been photography then) millennia ago, with crowns of thorns that look sharp enough to draw visitors’ blood.
Barbara Tyroler presents an intriguing series of abstracted “portraits” that focus on water rather than swimmers; she has spent hours documenting the struggles of children with autism spectrum disorder as they learn to swim.
Meanwhile, Alain Durand photographed tourists at the Lincoln Memorial who’d come from places are far-flung as Glasgow, Saskatoon, and Moldova. The artist calls his works “anti-selfies”—they are film images, rather than digital, and the shutter is clicked by Durand, an outsider. Erica Wissolik traveled to Cuba to document a dance troupe that practices in a once stately, now decaying theater (top).
The most notable series, however, is the seven-photogapher collaboration at Tessitura Bevilacqua, a factory in Venice that still uses 19th-century technology to produce textiles for clients ranging from the Vatican to Dolce & Gabbana. The images of the old looms being manipulated by workers are interesting enough (bottom), but the more compelling images are those that are more abstract. Arrays of thread—deep orange-red, bright violet, and pale yellow—suggest laser beams, exuding a modernity at odds with the old machinery.
One image, by Rik Michaud, cleverly fuses the two themes. Michaud’s photograph captures the face of an employee working at a loom, partially obscured by a thicket of vertical threads, satisfyingly balancing old-word technology with geometrical rigor.
Through June 1 at Glen Echo PhotoWorks, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md. Sat 1-4, Sun and Mon 1-8.