It seems it’s only when demolition is imminent that crafty art dealers show up to turn derelict spaces into temporary art galleries. Case in point: Randall Scott Projects will occupy a roughly 2,400-square-foot industrial studio in Shaw right up until the wrecking ball arrives—which, alas, could happen as soon as Sept. 1. But before Scott stumbled on the former plumbing supplies warehouse, it went unused and unpopped-up. The dealer says the space has been abandoned for 10 years.
Scott last had a physical presence in D.C. in 2009, when he closed his eponymous space on 14th Street NW to move to New York, taking with him one of the city’s most photography-centric gallery programs. “Untitled No. 2,” the second gallery show he’s hosted this summer in the warehouse at 8th and U streets NW, gives a hint about what we might have seen had Scott stuck around in the interim: The group exhibition is several shows combined.
The first is a solo exhibition by Jen Davis—or at least a solo show’s worth of her work. This isn’t a complaint, mind you. Davis’ photographs appear to question several assumptions about the body and its depiction—specifically, her body and the viewer’s assumptions. A viewer might feel confronted by Davis’ full figure, revealed in sometimes provocative or vulnerable situations—but that feminist back-and-forth is only half the story. Davis’s “Untitled No. 11” is nearly a still-life in its deployment of color and texture.
“Untitled No. 2” could also be described as containing a themed show on not-quite-feminist photography. Alongside Davis, Chris Anthony’s photos fit the bill: “Rebellion” and “Venice No. 3,” for example, are both portraits of surreal, costumed women, but they appear to be props in a larger, unspoken drama. Marco Delogu’s portraits of Catholic cardinals alongside various sinners portray the patriarchy and the other in stark, side-by-side terms.
The exhibitions features lots of photographs that aren’t quite photographs—which could be another point of departure for the show. A wall-hung, photograph-ish installation by Valentina De’ Mathà comprises strips of emulsified paper that have been treated with chemicals, like ripped-up Kodak prints. The piece shares the show with a number of funny, photograph-ish sculptures by Craig Roper, including paper-mounted pictures bound up like packages.
Scott has shown Julia Fullerton-Batten before, and her works here have a dated ’00s look. In these prints, prep-school teen girls, done up like Stepford Wives, appear to conspire against one another. This work stems from a time when glamorist Gregory Crewdson ruled the roost. But in a city that boasts few galleries specializing in photography, a look-back is welcome. Fans of current and almost-current photography should see as many shows as Randall Scott Projects can squeeze into that warehouse—or in this case, into a single show.