Vesna Pavlovic

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THURSDAY

Vesna Pavlovic, a Yugoslav-born photographer now based in New York City, previously mounted a documentary series at Fusebox on guest-worker communities in Serbia where the Vlachs, an ethnic minority, reside. But where that project was rich in sociological insight and weak on artistic technique, Pavlovic’s current exhibition (and Fusebox’s last before it closes for good) succeeds on both counts. Her inspired idea was to photograph the interiors of buildings put up in the 1960s to house two art collections—one in capitalist New York (the Chase Manhattan Bank building) and one in communist Belgrade (the presidential palace). As Pavlovic portrays them, the twin structures are a poignant reminder of how the Cold War turned everything, including art, into a subject for struggle. Interestingly, except for the occasional social realist painting in Belgrade, much of the art is generic abstraction; the floors, walls, artworks, and furniture are so inoffensively internationalist that you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled into a guided tour of the United Nations complex. As Belgrade-based curator Branislav Dimitrijevic nicely puts it in an accompanying essay, the palace, essentially abandoned since 1980, “functions rather as a mausoleum for the ambitious social project of a nation that has since disintegrated.” It, and the equally subdued Chase building, “look like vacant stage sets for some play that was once performed there.” The show is on view from noon to 6 p.m. (to Feb. 11; see City List for other dates) at Fusebox, 1412 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 299-9220. (LJ)

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