Arts Desk

Reviewed: Ken D. Ashton, Kate MacDonnell, and Terri Weifenbach at Civilian Art Projects

The title “Time & Land” describes with precision this exhibit of photographic works by Ken D. Ashton, Kate MacDonnell, and Terri Weifenbach at Civilian Art Projects: The artists explore, in their own way, the passage of time on the land. MacDonnell’s works are hobbled by needlessly claustrophobic wood frames and an indifferent color palette, but her images of birdseed piles photographed from a second-story window in a variety of seasons show conceptual promise, and she offers an impressive series of images taken in a green-tinged, Todd Hido-esque nighttime gloom. For the latter series, MacDonnell used an out-of-focus approach to turn humble objects—Christmas lights (top) and what appear to be cat’s eyes—into glowing, almost astronomical orbs. Ashton’s three images are the simplest—photographs taken from a moving train with gracefully fuzzed details, a tactic that works best in documenting a patch of graffiti near Milan, Italy (bottom). But the show-stealer is Weifenbach, who moves seamlessly from her past works in photography to high-definition video. For three time-lapsed minutes of footage, Weifenbach trains her lens on a small corner of a pond. (A still is below.) As is her signature, Weifenbach keeps the scene out of focus, an approach that pays dividends when it produces tiny reflections of sunlight in the shape of little O's, like the symbols for cities on a map. Equally impressive, Weifenbach gently shifts the plane of focus in and out, providing consistent visual interest (and even a brief moment of perfect clarity—literally). It’s her strongest work in about a decade, though it does leave a mystery: How does she arrive at the title “Blue” when the hues in the footage range from green to muddy brown?

The exhibition is on view 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday to May 5 at Civilian Art Projects, 1019 7th St. NW. (202) 607-3804.

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