By Mark Jenkins

Published in Washington Post, June 24, 2016


Can technology bring people closer to nature? That’s one of the questions pondered by “EnterState: Sensing the Natural World,” the five-person show at Washington Project for the Arts. Yet much of this work seems not so much attuned to the natural world as alienated from it.

In a performance piece documented with photos and video, Hope Ginsburg wears scuba gear to sit in the Qatar desert. The area was once underwater, but in this era, the Richmond artist is clearly out of place. That’s intentional, of course. The prospect that a warming planet will become hostile to humanity underlies exhibition curator Raquel de Anda’s vision.

Electrical signals emitted by bacteria yield electronic music in the audio-video piece by Interspecifics Collective, a Mexico City duo. Alex Arzt’s several contributions include two that expose the mimosa pudica — known for its “shy” response to being touched — to human stimulation. The Richmond artist even subjected the innocent plant to a polygraph test.

Although it employs electric lights and recorded sound, Laure Drogoul’s teeter-totter is less high-tech. When two people ride the wooden device, water flows through bottles from one side to the next, mimicking such ecosystems as the Chesapeake watershed. That the Baltimore artist’s piece is forever out of balance is ominously apt.

EnterState: Sensing the Natural World Through July 9 at Washington Project for the Arts, 2124 Eighth St. NW; 202-234-7103;

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June 24, 2016