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The Shakespeare Theatre Company is exhibiting two dozen of Nina Dunn’s photographs of Europe under the conceit that “if Shakespeare had a camera, what would he have captured?” Dunn’s images range geographically from France and Italy to Greece and Romania, but they waver between gaudily overproduced and lushly appealing.
A chateau enveloped in thick clouds under an unnaturally enormous moon is needlessly showy, as is a digital collage of Athens landmarks; a Paris nocturne adds nothing we haven’t already seen from the City of Light. More interesting are images in which Dunn collapses the plane of focus—-a subtle recession of brightly colored, nested doorways in St. Petersburg, Russia; a series of interconnected arches in Rome; and a riot of multicolored umbrellas compressed into proximity with bathers and ancient, carved grottoes on Italy’s Amalfi coast.
Dunn’s finest works are her most understated: an aerial image of a surprisingly regular matrix of trees in Bordeaux, accentuated by a Barnett Newman-style zip of a road, and a nearly monochromatic view of Rome’s largely empty Spanish Steps, echoing Frederick H. Evans’ famous photograph of a flight of weathered steps in England’s Wells Cathedral. Ironically, Wells Cathedral is a place that Shakespeare could have visited; it would have been a much easier hike from Stratford-Upon-Avon than any of the other sights Dunn has documented.
Through June 2 at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street N.W.