This weekend may be the last chance for a while to see the artwork of John Tsombikos—-aka Borf-—indoors. Since the 2008 closing of the Bobby Fisher Memorial Building, Borf-and-company’s makeshift gallery on North Capitol Street, D.C.’s best known graffiti artist (and onetime City Paper contributor) has been without a permanent home. After laying low for a bit and finishing his art degree at the Corcoran, Tsombikos has re-emerged with a solo show at The Fridge, a gallery and performance space on Barracks Row in Eastern Market.
Despite appearing in the Banksy documentary Exit through the Gift Shop, Tsombikos now disavows street art, and the small show highlights media other than the spray-painted grinning-kid stencils (the actual “Borf”) that were ubiquitous in DC in 2004 and 2005. Yet the show traffics in the same antinomian spirit that made Tsombikos the most prolific public vandal since Cool “Disco” Dan. The very title of the show, “Potty Trained at Gunpoint,” reflects the kids-versus-grownups motif that pervaded the Borf graffiti campaign. A bevy of pilfered CCTV cameras are mounted on the wall as trophies, and photos document the shoplifting of consumer items on display, including a can of Warhol’s preferred brand of soup. The centerpiece, though, results from a more benign and meticulous act of theft, a streetscape made of torn posters from the gentrifying neighborhood it depicts.
“Potty-Trained at Gunpoint” runs through Sunday. The Fridge then prepares for Graham Boyle’s “Thrive, Despite!,” a tragicomic display of activist art riffing on environmental chaos, which opens Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.
The Fridge is located in the rear alley of 516 8th St. SE. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1:00 – 7:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Free.