Arts Desk

Reviewed: Shamus Ian Fatzinger, Bridget Sue Lambert, and Richard Chartier at Civilian Art Projects

Shamus Ian Fatzinger found his artistic destiny in a forgotten cardboard box: dozens of scuffed and largely unprinted negatives, in both the standard 35 mm and cheap 110 format, documenting his young parents’ move west from New Jersey to New Mexico, chasing the dream of riches from uranium mining. It’s a 1970s working-class demimonde of unkempt hair, wife-beater undershirts, and muscle cars—a blend of the sweaty, Tulsa-era vibe of Larry Clark with the graceful interpersonal tableaux of Jeff Wall, particularly in one image where several figures work on a car and another in which Fatzinger and his cousin practice shooting (above). Visually, the images are the real deal in an age of Instagram. Conceptually, they pose intriguing questions about authorship. Fatzinger, a Washington-area photojournalist, was responsible for the printing and curation, but he also acknowledges owing a debt to his mother, Rebecca McGahey, “and other anonymous authors of the photographs.”

Meanwhile, Bridget Sue Lambert makes photographs of painstakingly rendered miniature bedrooms, right down to wisps of Kleenex and stray flip flops. Her scenes, usually stark but sometimes lush (below), depict messy, lived-in spaces overlain with the romantic angst of the never-seen occupants. Still, none carry the emotional weight of toy-figure war photographs of David Levinthal, the miniatures of evil-laden historical interiors by Thomas Demand, or the crime-scene-model photographs of Corinne May Botz.

Also on display: A 65-minute, minimalist sound installation by Richard Chartier, along with his darkly chiaroscuroed photographic diptych from the interior of D.C.’s MacMillan sand filtration plant.

The shows are on view to July 28 at Civilian Art Projects, 1019 7th St. NW, Second Floor. (202) 607-3804.


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