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X marks the spot in Noelle Tan's show at Civilian

By Jessica Dawson


(Courtesy of the artist and Civilian Art Projects)

Of all the images in Noelle Tan's photography exhibition at Civilian -- it's called, rather ambitiously, "The America Project: utopia"-- the one that haunts me is the most obdurate. It's a low-contrast, deeply banal shot of asphalt --- just a strip of road in Dallas, Texas, with a few white lane markers and a curb looming in the distance. Look at bit closer, though, and there's a twist.

The place is Dealey Plaza, the spot where John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in 1963. And the hard-to-make-out "X" marking the middle lane in Tan's picture (two strips of duct tape applied at regular intervals by someone; no one's exactly sure who) marks the spot where tragedy struck the presidential motorcade.

On my daily walks around Washington, the city's zebra stripes and lane markers keep reminding me of Tan's bizarre image. The picture bothered me when I saw it hanging in the gallery but now its resonance has forced me to rethink my qualms. There's something powerful at work here.

You can see the rest of the show at Civilian Art Projects until November 27th.

By Jessica Dawson  | November 10, 2010; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Galleries, Jessica Dawson  
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