By Louis Jacobson
Phil Hernandez and Ned Riley met more than a decade ago at D.C.’s Gonzaga College High School. It’s a history that gets a hat-tip in the duo’s photo exhibition at the Cross MacKenzie Gallery via the purple-and-white color scheme on the gallery’s walls. Hernandez and Riley have teamed up as Oculoire, a collaborative effort to produce black-and-white photographs that are heavily focused on D.C., from monumental columns to Metro stations. The name is a portmanteau of “oculus,” or eye-shaped form, and “neo-noir,” for the moody vibe they’re attempting. The pair frequently spotlight tunnels, cobblestones, and mopeds. Through the images a story emerges, one of the city’s gritty elegance, from the hum of D.C.’s everyday skateboarding culture to late nights in alleyways. It’s a romanticized vision of life in the city, but one that also manages to ring true.
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