SHIFTED FOCUS: A 10th Anniversary APAture Retrospective

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SHIFTED FOCUS: A 10th Anniversary APAture Retrospective
Curated by: Ellen Oh, Sally Szwed

1246 Folsom Street #100
San Francisco, CA 94103
October 25th, 2008 - January 23rd, 2009
Opening: October 25th, 2008 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Kearny Street Workshop
mixed-media, photography, digital, installation, performance, conceptual, sculpture


SHIFTED FOCUS: A 10th Anniversary APAture Retrospective celebrates 10 artists who have previously shown their work in Kearny Street Workshop's annual APAture and have made their mark on the contemporary art world in the Bay Area and beyond.

Featuring new works by Christine Wong Yap, Kevin B. Chen, Binh Danh, Rajkamal Kahlon, Michael Arcega, Kana Tanaka, Rebecca Szeto, Jennifer Wofford, Mark Baugh-Sasaki, and Weston Teruya.

SHIFTED FOCUS Gallery Opening

Saturday, October 25, 2008

7:00 - 9:00 pm

@ KSW's space 180 Gallery

180 Capp St., 3rd Floor

San Francisco 94110

APAture/Aperture: the linguistic similarity between the title of Kearny Street Workshop’s multidisciplinary arts festival and the light-controlling camera opening is not a coincidence. This purposeful play on words refers to APAture’s mission of exposing local emerging Asian Pacific American visual artists, writers, musicians and performers to a larger Bay Area audience and discourse. This retrospective is in celebration of not only the substantial duration of the festival and KSW’s long history of artist support, but also of ten APAture alumni who have significantly contributed to the dialogue of contemporary art practice in the Bay Area and beyond. In reflecting back over a decade of APAture festivals, we have chosen to also look forward by selecting new works by each artist, many of which have never previously been shown. Looking at the diverse selection of artistic practice represented in this exhibition, APAture’s ever-present homonym and its own meanings and interpretations came into play throughout our experience with the works. An aperture is an opening, a stop, a passage, and an optical control. It dictates what we see and how we see it. The artists featured in SHIFTED FOCUS have all produced work that functions as interpreters of our common surroundings. While in the past many have looked inward at issues of identity, now they are looking outward at the world and investigating it through various vantage points—by zooming in, dissecting, inverting, or filtering through a critical or historical lens.

Kevin Chen’s painstakingly rendered cityscapes titled The View From There, examine the spatial experience specific to the landscape of urban California and the unobstructed moment of viewing the skyline from afar. His drawings capture and stretch the moment of calm--typically over in an instant as we speed down the freeway or over a bridge—when still far outside the chaos of the dense urban system.

Kana Tanaka uses sculpted glass to create unique encounters with the visible phenomena found in daily life. Her glass lenses interact with the available glass of the gallery window and the light filtered through it to shift the viewer’s perspective of the world outside the space in which they stand.

Christine Wong Yap’s painting Lorem Ipsum takes a closer look at the Latin text often used for mock-ups in graphic design layout. The words we are accustomed to seeing as random filler text are juxtaposed with the original passage from which they were extracted and jumbled beyond recognition. By looking back to the original Latin text, Yap exposes the true poetic nature of the passage, which speaks to the essential human experiences of pleasure and pain.

In his installation On the Way Up (lub 300) Weston Teruya utilizes objects associated leisure, protection, and access found in daily life as means of an ongoing investigation into the societal dynamics of sites of privilege and control. The raft is as an instrument of rest and relaxation, yet it is also as a portable built environment demonstrating control over nature. The barrier offers safety, but also denies perhaps rightful admission.

Mike Arcega’s customized barrier tape makes a subtle alteration to the letters in the word typically printed on the side of the common yellow warning marker—caution. Auction is a comment on the use of artist donations in fundraising art auctions. The tape sections off a portion of the gallery creating a self-conscious space that we cautiously walk around while simultaneously questioning what we are being cautious of.

Rebecca Szeto’s steel wool drawing Gross Domestic Product (Props for a Market Crisis) challenges common belief structures, specifically that of the correlation between accumulation, security, and the American dream. The image, which Szeto borrows from Goya, portrays a figure with an amassment of material property balanced on her head nearing collapse. The standard household cleaning aid is utilized to represent both the strength and vulnerability of steel—over the course of the exhibition the drawing will slowly disintegrate and its transform its physical structure.

Mark Baugh-Sasaki grafts industrial material with organic components in response to the human tendency to force natural surroundings into a preconceived idealized image. In Phototropic Response, the tree, trained by the human, will to respond to the artificial and grows toward the television’s representation of sky—away from the natural light of the window.

In The War and Peace series, On-going (collection of such materials until the day I die) Binh Danh explores his fascination with not only the subject of war, but also the use of the daily newspaper headline in announcing its beginning as well as its end. Danh saved his first newspaper front page on September 11, 2001 and has since searched through the archives of numerous daily publications to examine how these extreme opposing announcements have been communicated through the similar aesthetic of bold typeface on newsprint.

Rajkamal Kahlon addresses the rift created between the images of war and the actual corporeal experience of war in her multimedia work Aktion with a Male Body: Notes from Schwarzkogler to Shahzada.  In looking at the body and how it has transformed “within historical moments of crisis,” Kahlon speaks to the detachment that has formed within the one thing that is closest to us all—our own bodies—and attempts a recovery from this separation.

Jenifer K Wofford’s prints, from the Art on Market Street Kiosk Poster Series commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, tell the story of fictional Flor Villanueva, a young Filipina immigrant living in San Francisco. The images function as visual vignettes illustrating select moments throughout a six-year span of her life. The prints, which are stylistically reminiscent of the illustrations of graphic novels, are part of a public poster series titled Flor 1973-78 and are installed in kiosks along Market Street so as to be randomly encountered by pedestrians. Like the images, which capture mundane moments in the life of their subject, the public placement allows for the story to insert itself into the daily routine of San Franciscans.

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