Saturday, April 17, 2010

How The Rape of the Wild Wild West Was Not Depicted

EXHIBITION TITLE: Beautiful Possibility
LOCATION: Southern Exposure 3030 20th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
DATES: March 10 - April 24, 2010

Bischoff tag reveals that the photography in question is located in the Branson Caves. It reminds me somewhat of the caves near the California shoreline some distance from Eureka.

Is there smoke? What material makes this pyramidal shape of a seemingly rainbow mystical image? Portable fan and parachute silk? Is this some sort of steam release from a chemical concoction? It does seem more like an object judging only from this photograph in the front of the gallery. It is more likely to be prompted or set up to depict motion.

In photography it is crazy what is possible, limitless; there is however an explanation we cannot know certainly.

His work is about 3’ x 4.25’, and they are C-Prints. The daylight reflection is horrid. This entrance piece would otherwise seem quite serene. The stillness of the foreground puddle suggests no wind, and a slight delay of exposure by way of a closer sight investigation of said puddle therefore makes me wonder since I see no strings, how the colorful blurriness which is otherwise to greet the viewer upon entrance to the gallery should juxtaposition the caves back entrance, which is also triangular.

Best viewed during day light hours within one meter to the left of the front entrance, I recommend Venetian blinds. Burning camping gear? Is this imagery some sort of temporal aberration warning us not to construct tunnels? Nature’s ghost warning against our raping the earth perhaps?

More cloudy and refractory in the following four frames disappearing perpendicular down the next wall. It seems to be at least a fifty year old mining shaft. I’m more in tune with the repeating triangle of the first piece, and the third on the left of the perpendicular wall from the entrance. This third from left strikes me as a super-imposed or multi-colored superimposed rainbow cloud or clouds which are shown in a side of the cave, or one of them, darkness receding to the upper-right.

He might well be using a refraction device and simply be manually burning it in, there might be dozens of possibilities, and this would seem to be the easiest. Looking at the foggy rainbow in the first from right seems more like a multi-color steam bath; again, however there is nothing solid about the images on the north facing wall. The entrance print could have been an object; this is not entirely realistic in any of the other prints. The first from the left however is without a doubt a gel process of some kind, multi-colored squares receding into the darkness of the cave mouth which touches on the top and left of the frame.

It kind of drives one mad, trying to figure out the magician’s secret, well Mr. Bischoff, what is it?

As photography is my exception I have to say the Pebworth installation at Southern Exposure will probably be my favorite for the year. Previous entitlements in my mind have gone to Bruce Conner, Trevor Paglen, and Enrique Chagoya, all previously exhibited at the University Of California Museum in Berkeley. One exception here would be the Emile Rose Garcia exhibition at the San Jose Modern.

Unlike Bruce Conner we have no sense of the counter culture other than a subtle political statement against the Bush administration. George Bush isn’t really responsible for the mass genocide in this country, although he could have been reincarnated from King George, if that were true then we really could blame George Bush. Gods save the King, the King is dead, long live the king.

With a forward and backwards by Rebecca Solnit in the illustrated book or gallery catalog of $15 plus tax we are treated with one whose words form an anti-capitalist tapestry of the formation most sublime, we can see a sense, or rather read a sense of political history into Pebworth’s body of work, albeit literally. With Pebworth, It’s already there figuratively at least, I shall address that.

Unlike Mr. Paglen (who is my sister’s age, and visited us at the Berkeley tree sit during his doctorial) there is little here to expose other than the little known fact of Americanitis which in today’s trans-nationalism seems like a combination of a sixty year late health care reform bill, opposed by half of the country, and gingivitis, in the form of latent racism, sexism, and homophobia, to say nothing of the wage slavery system and immigrant exploitation. Thank you for choosing McDonald’s King George, and please enjoy your death burger.

Of course in the Americanitis Elixer questionnaire without any doubt I cite capitalism as the most prominent figure in post-modern Amerikkkanitis. Unlike Paglen I’ve yet to receive a PhD in anything, and I’m no longer certified in first aid, yet you seem to have the gist of my diagnosis.

The paintings actually give a sense of hope and trans genesis of the ancient Americans and that of our colonial, and Victorian ancestry without revealing any actual factors about how this might be done other than perhaps a suggestion of green engineering inspired in part by the political renderings of the Obama administration. This is depicted with a greenbelt surrounding an industrial windmill, and a solar panel next to an aluminum watering hole for Bison, to suggest free range beasts of yesteryear. The depiction here suggests a return to the wilderness after our initial re-terra formation. Yet aren’t we still doomed to repeat our past? The paintings do not do so without spilling the blood of the past vis a vis the Industrial Genocide (Revolution), a depiction of the wild wild west with an oil derrick here and a factory with smoke stacks there. To Native Americans each of white man’s ages in this country was only a red man’s age of genocide, so I must relate this sad fact to you. I appreciate a message of hope, yet my integrity demands for a sharper intake of events as it were.

The paintings are so painterly in the most recent realist stylization; I hate to say there was no bloodshed, no sense of admonishment, and no sense of atonement, no demand for justice or liberty (although in all honesty these are only Christian ideologies,) more importantly no rage against the machine as it were. Why is there no realization of the Terminator in our state capital for example? Do not the tools of McCarthyism also reach beyond Reagan the actor to our own puppet regime? The outrage however is all ours, the guilt inherited by our fore fathers. It is no surprise that the paintings are cast in the bread and circus in the political circus like Barnum or Bailey, or Buffalo Bills public spectacle? Hello, remember Diane Arbus? If I had your talents, I’m sure I would depict something in a much stronger standard of political awareness. However it would seem our own political history is our own freak show. Sadly Rome was not burned in a day; if the subtlety of these paintings does not rally the left of left here in Northern California one must assume it does ratify the right of center in more conservative gallery locations. No mention of KKK rallies, lynching, deforestation, toxic residue, (one oil derrick and vague icons of industrialism not with standing,) or other demonstrative examples of our nation’s history, this is all in our mind according to this glorification of hope in the new democratic regime. Illustriously rendered, morally and politically motivating, yet Enrique Chagoya she is not.

This installation is too subtle, not shocking enough, not provocative enough, although sadly, it is more than most conservatives can handle. Why attempt to placate the new Reich? I left feeling indignant that she did not slap them squarely. I realize however that I am putting the cart before the mule, or rather the politics before the art, well forgive me Ms. Pebworth, wasn’t that your intention?

Strangely enough she is mostly like Camille Rose Garcia. Rather than expose a grotesque metaphor for the life we pretend doesn’t surround us, like Brice Bischoff she merely refracts the mirror image just slightly enough to expose our own frightening reality.

This was written with apologies to Camille Rose Garcia, Enrique Chagoya, Trevor Paglen, and Bruce Conner. I wanted to speak with Ms. Pebworth about the metaphysical aspects of her paintings today, but her entourage appointee interrupted me and I could not speak to her of her sense of her own dream scape, so I had to use my instincts based on feel, sight, and my sense of dystopianism as it is given to me by the new republic. Gods save the King, the King is dead, long live the King. Next time give the interview.

-- DARIN BAUER

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