Make You Notice
The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery is pleased to present Make You Notice,
an exhibition curated by Berkeley-based curator Patricia Maloney. Make
You Notice features video, photography and ephemera by four
contemporary women artists who utilize performance/performative acts in
their diverse practices to highlight the arbitrariness and absurdity of
the social structures that govern our perceptions. The artists record
their actions in and reactions to the world, seamlessly integrating
collaboration, activism, irony, and optimism into their work. Even when
presenting fantastic situations, they do not simply create characters,
but often enact extremely self-conscious, almost zealous, versions of
themselves. And in that slippery zone between person and performance,
they offer audiences the opportunity to unravel the social behaviors
that dictate our own lives and interactions with others.
Linking the four is the humor that infuses the work and their practices, along with a keen understanding of how fear impacts behavior. Lisa Anne Auerbach (Los Angeles), knits and cycles as a political protest against the war in Iraq; her activities are represented in photographs and ‘zines that conflate her outrage and art into a single mode of expression. Whether riding her bicycle throughout Los Angeles or stitching the number of soldiers killed in Iraq into a pair of mittens, Auerbach gives as much attention to the people around her as to her process. In her videos, Kate Gilmore (New York) builds precarious sculptural installations, and then deliberately puts herself in harm’s way by interacting with them. All the while, the vulnerability Gilmore experiences poignantly evokes the insecurities or obstacles women confront in their daily existence.
Laura Swanson’s (San Francisco) photographs are both confrontational and riveting, making her body an almost abstract object as a way to suggest re-forming the self. In her recent work, she calls attention to the difference between being looked at and being seen, obscuring her face and camouflaging her body while invoking a provocative sensuality through color and shape. In exploring global inequalities and cultural difference Jenifer Wofford (Oakland) uses a variety of media to blur the line between what is strange and what is desirable. Whether in drawings, videos, installation, or via collaborations, she creates irreverent, playful and political narratives that expose the absurd nature of rituals that bind individuals to institutions and each other.
The four artists are not simply performing; they invite the audience – aggressively, humorously, coyly, or casually – to join a conversation, and by extension, create community. There is a strong historical precedent for the use of video, performance, and photography by women artists starting in the early1970s; in Make You Notice, the artists share with this history the desire to create a language of identity and explore how that language extends itself into the world.
Patricia Maloney is the Associate Curator at Ampersand International Arts, San Francisco. She has organized and written for numerous exhibitions including The Searchers at White Box, New York; Close Calls 2006 at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito; Open Network: Brooklyn at Ampersand and Firmament, which traveled to Immanence espace d'art contemporain in Paris, and Turpentine Gallery in Reykjavik. Maloney has worked as a Curatorial Assistant for the Matrix Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and as a Program Associate for the International Program of MoMA in NY. Currently, she is completing her MA in Theory and History of Contemporary Art at the San Francisco Art Institute.