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Is it appropriate to find transcendence in photographs of abject poverty? That is one of the unsettling questions posed by Wyatt Gallery’s exhibit “Tent Life: Haiti.” (Gallery, incidentally, is a person, not a venue.) Gallery’s post-earthquake series surveys the human heartache of the disaster, from impromptu garbage dumps picked over by goats and children to a gaunt, elderly woman with her hand in a pose that eerily echoes that of Dorothea Lange’s iconic migrant mother. Yet the inescapable motif in this exhibition is tents—-ones in which survivors have established semi-permanent settlements. Some of Gallery’s tent images show sights that are overwhelming, with boxy structures stretching as far as the eye can see. But others are, despite the disorder, oddly calming, filtering in an ethereal light, lushly toned with blue, red or white hues. Equally bittersweet is the photograph of a group of boys joyfully frolicking in a gorgeous ocean tableau, within sight of a torrent of floating, rotting trash.
The exhibition is on view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday to Nov. 2 at the Art Museum of the Americas/OAS Terrace Level Photo Gallery, 1889 F St. NW.