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Alison Knowles was a founding member of Fluxus who showed that her ideas are just as fresh as ever at the opening of her San Francisco Art Institute exhibition last night. Knowles, 70, led a series of performances that started with the food table in front of the gallery. Instead of choosing the food you wanted, you had to pick a number. Your number determined the food you got. Only the servers knew the number codes, so you had to hope you would pick a good number. I ended up with Jello and cherry tomatoes. There were also several sound performances that were done with the help of student assistants. One used invented instruments; in another Knowles conducted the group, orchestra-like, in a reading from that day’s paper. Although the newspaper reading was a sort of standard performance that is repeated by a lot of artists, the context made sense here. It was nice to hear the sometimes hushed tones or loud pronouncements, depending on how Knowles moved her arms. The opening was well-attended by local luminaries including City Lights Bookstore owner and poet Lawrence Ferlenghetti, composer Charles Boone, art critic David Bonetti, and conceptual artist Tom Marioni. And the show in the McBean Gallery isn’t bad either. See it if you can.

—Chris Cobb

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, March 28th, 2003]

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