At dusk, a radiating neon green herbal leaf welcomes visitors to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It serves as one of the first installations a visitor sees when entering the Bay Area Now 6 (aka BAN6) visual arts exhibition. The signage was created by, Bay Area artist and San Francisco Art Institute faculty member, Tony Labat. As a play on the words Yerba Buena and the rich history San Francisco brings to the ongoing political and social debate of medicinal marijuana. Historically, Labat’s work examines social and cultural issues within such a milieu of diverging and opposing opinions.
Dualing Pianos: Agape Agape in D Minor by Mauricio Ancalmo was one of the noteworthy pieces in BAN6. Ancalmo fastidiously creates the perfect amount of tension, both figuratively and literally. Various technologies coalesce to re-contextualize and re-imagine concepts such as time, placement, and discord. The large kinetic sculpture pushes the viewer’s understanding of new media and technology based work. In many ways, Ancalmo calls upon his viewer to actually listen as well as experience the cyclical nature of synthesis and antithesis.
Chris Fraser’s light installation, Developing a mutable horizon, plays with the viewer’s sense of space and perception through light refraction and offers an provocative participatory aspect to the spectator. Fraser’s experience as a photographer lends itself well in that the body dictates the light versus the light dictating placement of the body. Another photographer, Sean McFarland, explores the unorthodox nature of darkness within landscape photography and calls into question how the senses grow accustomed to what is not the commonplace. Light plays an incredibly and necessary role in capturing the perfect image. Yet, what happens when that paradigm of photography shifts to capturing that which is shrouded in darkness. How do the eyes see? Do the eyes and the sense of sight truly discern lines and shapes? McFarland challenges our retinal sense by having darkness within the photograph to be what guides the eye and our cognition to comprehending the forms as if there is something more revealing captured in the dark versus in the light.
Another standout piece was Suzanne Husky’s, Sleeper Cell Hotel. The oval pods constructed from raw lumber accompanied by quilted comforters adorning the interior is a trenchant approach at creating the antithesis of what is commonly known as a sleeper cell – clandestine and secret. Husky’s combination of performance art, functionality, and sculptural fabrications take what is private into the public sphere.
The show incorporated artists using traditional methods of art making such as Robert Minervini paintings of cityscapes under construction as well as Ben Venom’s quilts but based within a more conceptual framework. Both artists provide anomalous ways in which old technologies are being used to create advancements in the way art is created and experienced. Yet, even with all of the optimism one can muster about the Bay Area art community, the disappointing aspect of the show was the lack of artists working with newer and cutting edge technologies. Granted, there are many organizations showcasing the new wave of technologically based artists and makers but it’s a bit surprising to not see them as well represented in the BAN6 show. The diversity and range ought to make visible and obvious the ways in which the Bay Area differs from other regions versus exhibiting how we are alike. There is a specific voice here that wasn’t particularly shown. Although the selected BAN6 artists embody the broad range of art within the Bay Area, the diversity in technique and method was a bit lacking.
For more information about BAN6 click here
Originally posted to zer01 blog, please click here to view.
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