Matt Sussman

Crack-ups

Noir City 9 corrals characters on the edge

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FILM Who wants to die for art? That question, immortally screamed by Divine at the climax of John Waters' Female Trouble (1974), has most recently been taken up by Darren Aronofsky's campy psychological thriller Black Swan (2010), in which Natalie Portman's fragile ballerina discovers that giving her all as the good and evil leads in an edgy production of Swan Lake requires giving up her sanity, and eventually, her life. Read more »

La Frontera

Hairy Eyeball: Tracey Snelling's 10-year retrospective at Rena Bransten haunts the edge of town, while Max Cole's show at Haines gets geological

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HAIRY EYEBALL Walking through Tracey Snelling's 10-year survey at Rena Bransten brings to mind the famous opening tracking shot of Orson Welles' 1958 noir Touch of Evil. For over three tension-ratcheting minutes Welles' camera — all swooping omniscience — takes in the garish sights and sounds of a tourist outpost along the U.S.-Mexico border as it tails an American car that, unbeknownst to the couple behind the wheel, has been planted with a bomb that's about to go off.Read more »

Sawako's choice

Nobody's special in Yuya Ishii's comedies

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FILM Sawako Decides, the most recent feature by the talented 27 year-old Japanese director Yuya Ishii, might not be the best film of 2010 that you never saw, but it certainly ranks as one of last year's funniest — and perhaps more debatably, most feminist.Read more »

Look forward in anger

YEAR IN ART: A firestorm of controversy in the larger art world -- but here in San Francisco, visions were clear and wide-ranging

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HAIRY EYEBALL/YEAR IN ART The year in art is ending on a note both sour and defiant. On Nov. 30, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, caving to criticism voiced by conservative politicians and religious groups, ordered the removal of David Wojnarowicz's 1987 video A Fire in My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture." It was a cowardly decision; one that ultimately has undermined the credibility of Clough and his institution.Read more »

SF Camerawork and YBCA do the right thing (Updated)

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Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before: a Washington DC art institution caves in to right wing politicians and conservative Christians calling for the removal of "controversial" work made by an openly gay artist. Read more »

Where everybody knows your name

HAIRY EYEBALL: Formerly known as Ping Pong Gallery, Romer Young Gallery steps into the new year. Plus: Phase one of "Disponible — a kind of Mexican show" has taken over Walter and McBean Gallery

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HAIRY EYEBALL It can be easy to get cynical about the business side of art, so it's always refreshing when a local labor of love such as Romer Young — the small Dogpatch gallery formerly known as Ping Pong — demonstrates that growth doesn't necessarily entail compromising one's vision.Read more »

The face of Cher

Burlesque musings

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(In the style of Roland Barthes' The Face of Garbo.) Cher's face belongs to our current moment in cinema when the female visage represents a kind of absolute non-state of the flesh, which can be reached through a variety of (as-yet-not-entirely-confirmed) nips, tucks, filler injections, makeup and post-production airbrushing.Read more »

Timbre!

Love is a Stream and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma knows how to glide along

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MUSIC Local multi-instrumentalist and Root Strata label cofounder Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has titled his newest solo album, Love is a Stream (Type), but the watercourse this robust and unexpectedly sharp collection of dazzlers brings to mind is Niagara Falls.Read more »

Pwning the classics

Jennie Ottinger throws the book at us in "Due By," at Johansson Projects, while Ed Moses serves up acrylic animalia at Brian Gross Fine Arts

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Jennie Ottinger's last solo painting show at Johansson Projects, "ibid," presented an assortment of ghostly figures — ballerinas, nurses, schoolchildren, businessmen — lifted from found photographs. The less-is-more aesthetic of Ottinger's small oil and gouache canvases underscored the fact that, save for the recovered images used as source material, the everyday people depicted in them had long been lost to history.Read more »

America's original sin

Jens Hoffmann finishes his trilogy of literary group shows with a strong take on a Twain classic

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arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART Going into "Huckleberry Finn," the final installment in the Wattis Institute's trilogy of group shows organized around canonical American novels, it is perhaps best to heed the notice Mark Twain places at the outset of the text from which this exhibit takes its name and inspiration: "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."Read more »