Arts Desk

Reviewed: Nira Pereg at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Nira Pereg’s video work “67 Bows” is manipulative, in both a literal sense and an emotional one. Pereg, a young native of Tel Aviv who studied in the United States before returning to Israel, has produced a loop video featuring a flock of flamingos in Germany’s Karlsruhe Zoo. (Warning: spoiler alert coming.) To footage of the birds’ natural head-bobbing behavior, Pereg has paired the sounds of a shotgun being cocked, then fired. Vewers see the flamingos seemingly cowering in unison as they hear the weapon being readied and then fired; presumably we are supposed to empathize with the birds as they try to ignore the violence suggested around them. Except there is no violence; it’s all an artificial construct that starts off nature-movie mesmerizingly but which quickly becomes numbing. A meditation on violence committed against either humans or animals carries weight almost by definition, but in Pereg’s constructed universe, there are no consequences for the birds, nor even a denouement. One is left to wonder whether the flamingos are actually acting neurotically because of their somewhat rundown surroundings, rather than a soundtrack they obviously can’t hear.

Through Nov. 13 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,  7th St. and Independence Ave. SW. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

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