Arts Desk

Reviewed: Nicole Herbert and Janell Olah at Flashpoint

The twin exhibitions now on view at Flashpoint don’t limit themselves to appearing in the gallery; they become part of it, toying with the architectural features not just of the exhibit space but also the facility’s accompanying cubicles, conference rooms and bathroom areas. In “Trace,” Nicole Herbert adds a series of supernumerary fixtures to the office in ways that echo the surroundings, such as windows with taped outlines that abstract the view outside, or fake water pipes that go from nowhere to nowhere. The works are hard to locate, even with motion-sensored lights to illuminate them, and their conceptual impact is equally subtle. More successful are the works of Janell Olah, curated by Amanda Jiron-Murphy. Olah hijacks the building’s air vents and HVAC system by hooking up a network of translucent plastic coverings that inflate and deflate depending on how the air is flowing at a particular moment. The appearance of Olah’s works is frustratingly indifferent—the dominant visual vibe of her materials might be described as “Ikea shower curtain”—but the notion of giving a star turn to something as fleeting as airflow is clever. More to the point, there’s something unexpectedly thrilling about seeing a row of cloud-shaped plastic forms spontaneously inflate in unison as soon as the AC kicks in.

The exhibit is on view Tuesday to Saturday noon to 6 p.m. to Aug. 27 at Flashpoint, 916 G St NW. (202) 315-1305. Free

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