Posts archive: March 2003

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]

The old and the new guard of intimate lifestyle photography came together last night at the Whitney. Larry Clark and Ryan McGinley had a rambling conversation, moderated by Sylvia Wolf, on their ideas and approaches to their work. Clark seemed to be on a mission to say that “Everything is documented now,” a point he repeated four or five times. McGinley didn’t have any great insight, but came off as a charming, albeit lucky youngster who had stumbled into a great deal of success. His discussion of his work certainly wasn’t aided by Wolf’s hopelessly out-of-touch questions such as “There seem to be patterns in your work of things like BMX bikes and flannel shirts. Can you talk about this? What else could McGinley say but “I think flannel shirts are sexy.”

- Asha Schechter [Wednesday, March 26th, 2003]

at Survival Research Lab’s Benefit for Tim North. Highlight of the evening so far—the raucous exuberance of the Extra Action Marching Band juxtaposed against David Therrien’s high-voltage Body Drum performance. North, a talented percussionist and long time fixture in the SF industrial/machine art scene, is best know for his innovative “Hoverdrum”. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis is not good. A lot of positive energy is in the house for him right now. Be well, Tim.

- David Lawrence [Wednesday, March 26th, 2003]

the SECA Award exhibition at SFMOMA opened Wednesday night to what looked like a crowd surprisingly unaffected by the start of the US invasion. The four artists each have good reason to be included, and there’s a nice mix of the beautiful and the absurd on view. Highlighting the city’s new art stars, this exhibition should be easy to bring to life, but the allotted space feels pushed to the side. What would the museum feel like if it considered this its big show of the season?

- Tucker Nichols [Friday, March 21st, 2003]

Now I know why Jacques Chirac looked like he was scared shitless while being interviewed for an American television Sunday broadcast. It’s because he knows our president better than we do. And why wouldn’t he? President Bush has given virtually no interview or meetings with anyone who diverges from his hawkish point of view, this according to today’s “Democracy Now” broadcast on KPFA radio, 94.1 FM. And now, it’s high noon at the OK corral. Does anyone else have a terrible stomach ache?

- Cheryl Meeker [Tuesday, March 18th, 2003]

show a blurring of painterly and photographic realities. Angelina Nasso’s show at the Stux Gallery in Chelsea features luminous paintings of what appear to be distant, out of focus lights. Oscillating unsteadily between micro and macro views - it is unclear how close one is supposed to be to the light sources depicted - the paintings are simultaneously illustrative and impressionistic, an exercise in ambiguous perception and pure pleasure.

At Berlin’s Galerie Kamm, Gabriele Basch’s solo show “Weiss” consists of a set of elliptical paintings that look like fragmentary snapshots of unremarkable scenes. Existing just outside the realm of the photographic, the paintings appear to be pieces of a rich and oblique interior narrative, their centers of gravity moving somewhere beyond their edges.

Over at Kapinos Alice Kwade’s c-prints of LEDs from household electronics are also a form of private revelation, though here it is derived from the outside world rather than the inner one - something akin to finding a new universe in your living room. The photos are luminous and painterly, and as with Nasso’s pieces an uncertain relationship takes place between what you are looking at an what you see. Also at Kapinos Jenny Rosemeyer’s collaged photographs and paper cutouts are both elegant and disturbing, their grayscale shapes providing a sculptural foil for images that hint at a domestic disarray just under the surface.

Negativland‘s performance at Maerz Musik featured their usual cut-and-paste critique of American culture, this time around pairing the lust for automobiles with a blind form of patriotism. The first part of the concert showcased a beautifully-preserved widescreen print of footage shot in the mid-sixties from the front seat of a large sedan moving slowly through suburban tract housing. The languid view through the windshield and over the serene streets accompanied by looping voiceovers encouraging driving and consumption showed as well as anything I’ve seen lately the kind of false paradise that is fueled by easy access to cheap oil. Later in the concert audio recordings of prison officials electrocuting a prisoner - and actually having to throw the switch twice since the first jolt didn’t appear to be enough - documented the casual banter and disquieting routineness with which the act occurred.

In the middle of Berlin a different kind of execution is gearing up to take place. Micha Ullmann’s memorial in the Bebelplatz commemorating the May 10, 1933 book-burning by the Nazis is set to be displaced by an underground parking garage. Viewed from above through a glass panel in the surface of the of the Bebelplatz, the memorial is simply a white underground room that features empty bookshelves. I cycle by this site almost every day and the sight of the gathering collection of construction equipment seems more than a metaphor for the growing military forces in the Middle East. One of the most understated and effective memorials anywhere (not to mention a very popular tourist attraction), the piece is a clear reminder of what intolerance and narrowmindedness can do. The fact that the short-sighted priorities of the automobile and the bottom line can destroy this memorial shows how difficult it continues to be to use history as a guide when building a future in the face of market forces.

- Ed Osborn [Tuesday, March 18th, 2003]

Meet the Neocons and their plans for a new middle east order.

- Ella Delaney [Monday, March 17th, 2003]

In the coming days, when you feel like the media is nothing more than a hopeless shill for our government’s rabid insanity, tune in to Mother Jones’ war watch, a truly alternative media voice located right here in the San Francisco Bay area.

- Ella Delaney [Monday, March 17th, 2003]

Louise Bourgeois is in her nineties only according to her biography—her imagination is downright spring chicken-like. Evidence is now on view at Paule Anglim, where a group of drawings, prints and sewn sculpture once again shows why she is one of our truly great living artists. Last night’s opening was surprisingly sparse, but her sewn heads—some made from old tapestries, others from her own clothing—seemed to populate the gallery on their own. Anyone with $25 grand to spare will have a tough time picking among the drawings.

- Tucker Nichols [Thursday, March 13th, 2003]

just one of the rumbles from a “tectonic plate shift” in New York’s art world, says the Village Voice.

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, March 12th, 2003]

In case anyone has forgotten what happens to those people unfortunate enough to be caught up in the middle of a war (“clean” or otherwise), The Memory Hole provides this intelligent and graphic reminder.

- Ed Osborn [Wednesday, March 12th, 2003]

as dreams of new buildings evaporate at museums coast to coast, Daniel Libeskind’s selection as architect of the WTC Memorial boosts the museum addition he designed for the mile-high city.

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, March 9th, 2003]

Mexico City-based artist Minerva Cuevas, who had been scheduled to speak at the California College of Arts and Crafts this evening, has canceled her appearance. So head out for the first-Thursday openings downtown instead. In addition to the Castaneda-Reiman show mentioned below, much-anticipated exhibitions include Amy Ellingson’s new paintings at the Haines Gallery.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, March 6th, 2003]

from the small preview audience during her talk with Brodie Reiman at Stephen Wirtz Gallery when she said that they build all of their work “to code.” The concerns about construction and building materials of the artists who partner in creating their work belie the beauty and serene naturalism of the modernist environmental installation piece they have created which fills and transforms the gallery. Perhaps this contrast mirrors the issues that arise in the work: questions of the relationship between the built environment and the natural world. See this tour de force: the show opens today.

- Cheryl Meeker [Thursday, March 6th, 2003]

After about five minutes as Editor-in-Chief, Frank Cebulski has resigned. Laura Janku, a freelance writer with credits from several national magazines and experience in the publications department at Stanford, is taking the helm. As the Editor-in-Chief, she chooses exhibitions for review and assigns all feature stories. So once again, update your mailing list!

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, March 5th, 2003]

Today’s sponsored piece on Salon (the only article on Salon that is still free), brings back those crazy internet boom times in its review of Leaving Reality Behind: Etoy vs. and Other Battles to Control Cyberspace.

- Ella Delaney [Tuesday, March 4th, 2003]

James Turrell could do a slide show in the midday light of the desert and it would still be enlightening. His lecture to a packed house at CCAC was hampered by the ironic—and embarrasing—realization that the overhead lights couldn’t be turned off to clearly view the slides. No matter, though. His talk described the myriad ways in which he has made artwork not so much with or about light, but of it. As he casually mentioned at one point, “There is truth in light.” WTC rebuilders, have you talked to this man?

- Tucker Nichols [Monday, March 3rd, 2003]

Bernie Lubell might forgive me for interpreting his humble-tech works as a caution to people confident that the world can be dominated with American weapons. Lubell’s handmade wooden contraptions insinuate the fragility of life, the pitfalls of technology, and the perils of miscommunication. They’re also funny, just a little bit sexy, and highly interactive. You have until March 9 to see them—and a terrific installation by Sheri Simons—at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek.

- Meredith Tromble [Monday, March 3rd, 2003]

From the editors