Photograph by Courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts
The past few years have been huge for interactive and audience-driven art hosted in the District, but amid some more well-publicized spectacles, “Lysa III” by Jennifer Rubell was particularly, well, nuts. Featured in the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ excellent multi-woman exhibit NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection
(yes, Jennifer is a member of the titular Rubell family), it was a clear stand out. “Lysa III” is a life-sized sculpture of a woman styled like a garish blow-up doll with worryingly large plastic breasts who also happens to be a functioning nutcracker. Grab a walnut from a nearby bin, place it in the doll’s nether regions, and yank the leg down to break the nut with an extremely satisfying crunch (this has the added benefit of making the piece basically selfie-proof—you have to actually live in the moment for this one). It’s slightly menacing, weirdly funny, and totally made for these times. Rubell was directly inspired by Hillary Clinton nutcracker dolls, saying “I loved the idea of the act of cracking a nut being this kind of scary act of female power.” And when’s the last time you went to an exhibit with a nut allergen disclaimer?