Arts Desk

“Faith”: Religion, Irony, and Latex Bodysuits in Photos at the Leica Store

STRATA 2In a new exhibition at D.C.’s Leica Store, the STRATA collective—an eight-photographer network based in D.C. and San Francisco—chronicles “Faith,” though its definition of that term is squarely catholic (the small-c kind). The members, who specialize in street photography, define the exhibit as exploring “the notions of faith and the things people hold on to in times of uncertainty, whether it be God, country, communities, resources, family, or ideas.”

One edgy side-by-side pairing includes Joshua Yospyn’s dreamy “Dancing, Fort Dupont,” featuring a couple captured in strong sunlight and posed in a way that suggests a crucifix, and Michael W. Hicks’ “Couple Kissing,” which documents a two figures in full-body latex suits in San Francisco amid some passionate snogging.

A few images play the religious irony card a little too hard, such as Yospyn’s photograph of an ATM at a religious theme park in Orlando (“Welcome to Holy Land … Get Cash”), or Hicks’ image of a dollar store sign next to a tall-steeple church. And Hicks’ “Rainbow, Marfa, Texas,” featuring a man with a broken-down car in the shadow of a rainbow, is just this side of cloying.

On the other hand, Aziz Yazdani offers just the right measure of quirkiness with his image of a group holding a sign that reads, “Jump rope with a Muslim,” while Bill Bramble captures the searing contrast of a “Happy Father’s Day!” balloon attached to a headstone in Arlington National Cemetery.

The two most impressive images may be the most sublimated. One, by Hector Isaac, features a man blocking out the sun, leaving an odd, eclipse-like feathering on the outline of his body, while a collection of contrails hovers in the sky, eerily suggesting the planet Saturn.

The other, by Steve Goldenberg, captures a boy swimming in a pool, photographed through a water-splattered, translucent surface (top). This filter distorts the boy’s face into a grotesquerie worthy of Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Edvard Munch. It's not clear what this has to do with "faith," but it's a compelling visual nonetheless.

Through October at the Leica Store, 977 F St., N.W., Washington, D.C. (202) 787-5900. Mon–Wed 11–6, Thu-Fri 11–7, Sat-Sun 11–6.

Strata 1

by Chris Suspect

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