Bay Area Now 4
Jul 16—Nov 6, 2005
Curated by René de Guzman and Berin Golonu
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Bay Area Now 4 is a triennial exhibition of what is notable in Bay Area art. Works by thirty-three artists and artist groups are on view. While the content and form of the art varies widely, this year’s exhibition reflects not only our region’s iconoclastic tendencies, but also a desire for connection and interaction. Does geography shape expression? Does regionalism still exist? Is there a shared Bay Area artistic sensibility? These are some of the questions raised by the exhibition.
As curators, we have an abiding conviction that there is something noteworthy about the Bay Area and the downhome sophistication and unapologetic, iconoclastic tendencies of its cultural producers. At the same time, we are sober to the fact that the idea of regionalism is in need of an overhaul. In the face of the trans-territorial, free-for-all interactions of people, ideas and materials that mark the twenty-first century, regional identity is no longer a simple matter of geography. We must now calculate the impact of the region’s fluid relationships with the rest of the world to clearly see the factors that infuse this area’s specific urban personality. While we may be able to identify the internal and external elements at play, the resulting outcomes are always unpredictable and subject to change. For instance, the infusion of capital into the Bay Area’s entrepreneurial high-tech industry in the 1990s produced a very different kind of place than the one we are now experiencing. More relevant to the current moment is our political climate and the fact that the nation is at war. Such realities may more accurately explain how we as a region have reinstated our commitment to liberal causes and progressive possibilities. Explaining the Bay Area, or any other region for that matter, is an exercise in being precise about the intricacies of a place, understanding that it is a by-product of ongoing, complex exchanges and that it is always on the verge of becoming something new.
More than thirty visual artists and artist groups are included in this year’s survey. While their work undertakes widely varied approaches to the creative process, the artists’ explorations are often driven by an effort to make sense of fluctuating realities through mapping connective relationships—whether by investigating geographic networks, exploring community connections, diagramming visionary systems or translating number patterns into visual form. At times these works occur as performance-based situations within the gallery spaces that transform public discussion and instructional settings into participatory theater. Other works demand the direct involvement of audiences in the making of finished works or incorporate the views of lay people in the interpretation of the art in the exhibition.
As a regional survey, BAN 4 acknowledges an impermanent cultural landscape that is open, pliable and ambiguous. At the curatorial and artistic levels, there are attempts to grapple with various mythologies. Many of the artists in the exhibition produce work that challenges the premise that art results from isolated, esoteric experience and is independent of the social context that lies outside the gallery’s confines. While these ideas are by no means unique to this area, they nonetheless maintain a strong hold on the region’s creative practitioners. Daring work is produced here, maybe because the art market does not have such a suffocating grip on our creative possibilities, or perhaps because this area continues to draw those adventurers attracted to the West and its fecund open spaces. Pre-existing myths are addressed at the same time new ones are sought in producing a region’s character. We, as curators, artists and audiences alike, are participants in this endeavor and understand that Bay Area Now is ultimate a desire to see and imagine who we are.
-René de Guzman & Berin Golonu
Works by: Chris Ballantyne, Tommy Becker, Libby Black, Liz Cohen, Adriane Colburn, Robert Gutierrez, John Hattori, Marisa Jahn & Steve Shada, Xylor Jane, Jim Jocoy, Helena Keeffe, Frederick Loomis, Michelle Lopez, Ari Marcopoulos, Christian Maychack, Keegan McHargue, Apollonia Morrill, Neck Face, Sasha Petrenko, Kate Pocrass, Emily Prince, Ted Purves, Christine Shields, Josephine Taylor, Margaret Tedesco, Hank Willis Thomas, Edie Tsong, Anna Von Mertens, Anne Walsh & Chris Kubick, Gestalt Collective, Hamburger Eyes, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., Stretcher.org
Download excerpts from the BAN 4 catalog and descriptions of the artists' projects here.