Grazia Toderi, an Italian video artist, presents two large-scale works at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, each of them fantastical and distinctly unsettling. Orbite Rosse (Red Orbits, 2009), projected in almost total darkness, features a multi-layered brew of photographic and filmed imagery, primarily city lights as seen from a distance. Far from romantic, these lights—-hovering, whizzing, and blinking from within a red-tinged miasma—-are punctuated by an ominous soundtrack that suggests the irritating drone of helicopter rotors.The other work on display, Rossa Babele (Tower of Babel, 2007), is, if anything, even more disquieting, featuring a pair of pyramids, one inverted, seemingly constructed out of volcanic magma. The scene is repeatedly interrupted by what looks (and sounds) like tracer and artillery fire, which eventually shears the top off the pyramid. Within this unnerving mix, there’s only one element that offers a welcoming lightness—-a recurring motif in Orbite Rosse of spinning, circular lights that suggest a Ferris wheel. Otherwise, Toderi’s carefully constructed universe is dismal and dispiriting.
The exhibit is on view 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily to Sept. 5 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Ave. and 7th St. SW. Free. (202) 633-1000.