The recreational vehicle, almost as much as Old Glory itself, symbolizes unfettered American freedom. But the RVs in Frank Hallam Day’s exhibit at the Addison-Ripley Gallery are not zooming along a gently winding, sun-dappled mountain road. Instead, the artist photographs RVs in the gloom of night, parked in anonymous, eerie settings in Florida – the “dark American Dream; lovely and glowing, yet somehow toxic and chilling,” as Day puts it. The vehicles are semi-hidden amid palm fronds and Spanish moss, seen at dusk or in inky blackness and lit by harsh flashes and eccentrically colored glows emanating from the interior, ranging from amber to emerald green. Day’s images call to mind the “Twilight” works of the photographer Gregory Crewdson, in their preference for spooky dusk settings and almost painterly fantasies, as well as the alienating nighttime imagery of Todd Hido. The series is too derivative (and repetitive) to be considered Day’s finest work, but it’s undoubtedly effective at creating a feeling of pervasive moodiness.
Through Dec. 4 at Addison/Ripley Gallery, 1670 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-338-5180. Open Tues.-Sat. 11 am-6 pm.