California dreaming - Page 2

Metal quilts and radical piss-taking marks YBCA's Bay Area Now

Western promise: Ben Venom's "Don't Wake Me Lucifer" quilt

Quilting is also taken up in Suzanne Husky's nearby Sleep Cell Hotel installation, a collection of three potentially inhabitable nest-like wooden structures that resemble porcupines, replete with quilts covered in radical slogans. A goofy infomercial touts the dwellings as the next development in politically conscious eco-tourism, while a hand-drawn sign warns of their structural unsoundness. Husky's isolation tanks take the piss out of radical chic and backpackers alike while questioning the impact even the most well-intentioned and off-the-grid 21st century nomads leave in the wake of their habitats beyond carbon footprints.

That question is reframed in more ambiguous terms by Ranu Mukherjee's wonderful series of drawings and watercolors of "nomadic artifacts" located in YBCA's smaller second gallery. Each work is based on an image or stories sent to Mukherjee by friends and associates that reflect their conception of the nomadic, a process of translation neatly embodied by the blank fields against which a camper van or an ancient Egyptian temple is depicted. Isolated from their original contexts, these purloined postcards from the edge form an ongoing archive of mobile existence (the call for submissions is still open).

This second room — darkened to accommodate a video projection by Mukherjee as well as Sean McFarland's crepuscular, large-format photographs of forest interiors — is actually BAN6's most coherent grouping, with Weston Teruya's architectural model-like paper sculptures and Richard T. Walker's winsome three channel video installation rounding out a chorale of differing takes on land use, abuse, occupation, and representation.

In many cases at BAN6, ambition tends to exceed execution, but the results — as with Tony Labat's large neon marijuana leaf that, seen from the outside, makes YBCA's Mission Street lobby look like the city's chicest pot dispensary — still pack a punch. Whether that is enough, or enough for a "moment in time" group survey such as this, is another question.


Through Sept. 25

Thurs.–Sat., noon–8 p.m.; Sun, noon–6 p.m., $5–$7

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF


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