Monday, November 17, 2008
HOME 1996-2008 ON KQED ARTS
Megan Wilson: Home: 1996-2008
Not to re-fight old battles, but the domestic sphere as a feminist art concern never lets me be comfortable. On the one hand, raising The Domestic to the level of high-art-worthiness most "masculine" subjects enjoy, is all to the good. On the other, I've been dismayed by the overwhelming rush of women artists of my generation to fetishize the ironically tacky feminine sphere of our childhood. We hit the mid-nineties -- our cultural ascension -- and pseudo-primitivist folk painting, handicrafts, and seventies home decorating colors became a cliché faster than you could say "Margaret Kilgallen at the Whitney." The noise of such blatant bandwagoning eventually had the effect of drowning out the intended dialogue.
But since we went to war (a conjunction to be plumbed another time), the tsunami of fashion victims worshipping orange shag has receded, and left the artists who set the terms of the debate in a high and dry place. High and dry, or rendered and clarified; what a difference half a decade makes. This month, Megan Wilson, an artist so centrally situated within the third-wave domestic aesthetic that the connection can sometimes be hard to see, is offering tours of the high and dry in her installation Home: 1996-2008.
The installation is Wilson's home; her apartment since 1996. Since 2004, Wilson has been turning her space into an art installation -- one never finished and therefore never made public. But now, the victim of an Ellis Act eviction that will have her out of the apartment before the end of the year, Wilson is opening up the space to visitors and giving guided tours, for the entire month of November 2008.
For those who have been following Bay Area arts for the past decade, Home offers an unexpected completion...a closing of a circle you may not have felt was open. For Wilson's prolific and ubiquitous practice tends to abstract and reduce; in each piece or installation the artist picks out one element of the home aesthetic -- a cartoon flower, a cut-paper curlicue, a discrete form in an upholstery pattern -- and repeats that module in a pleasing and decorative format until its origin is completely obscured, and the individual piece approaches the purely formal. Extending these modules over the surfaces of an entire apartment over the course of nearly five years has allowed these ... ideographs ...to accrete geologically. The apartment installation serves as a lexicon of the past decade of Wilson's work. In Home the abstracted finds its way back to context.
Or is further abstracted. What's most noticeable -- and what Wilson, on her tour, first points out -- is the set of curtain-cloth shapes she has cut out and pinned to the walls and ceilings. You've seen these before if you've seen Wilson's work before; here they are in such profusion because of the number of rooms they must decorate. Yes, these decorative items, snipped and abstracted from decoration, have been turned back into decoration. It's a double inversion that takes you back to the same longitude, but a different latitude. You are here in a meta-home: a meta-seventies-childhood-home, a meta-Wilsonian-childhood, and a meta-gallery-of-Megan-Wilson's-ideas.
You'll see other familiar images. On the bedroom door hangs one of the 250 panels Wilson painted with the word "Home" and a flower, distributing them in 2000 to individuals and organizations all over the city who were homeless or about to be. It's not even ironic: Wilson's understanding of the domestic sphere has always extended into public space, and for distinctly political reasons. She has always taken eviction and enclosure personally. That we are no longer facing the internet bubble doesn't mean that artists are no longer getting evicted, or that Wilson herself was ever safe. Another circle closed.
In the bedroom you'll also see the sign-painterly flowers that are, as much as anything, her trademark. These flowers, large and small, perky and melting, tie her bedroom to loci all over the world: hipster art spaces and art-sale-collections in SF, transport bicycles in Yogjakarta, Indonesia, a wall in Manila. In a career that has carefully and deliberately practiced collaboration and exchange, these flowers have become almost a hallmark of Wilson's process of stretching the idea of home to absurd and profound distances.
Wilson says her intention was to eventually show the installation, but she was in no hurry and her perfectionism could have prevented it indefinitely. On the other hand, living in such a profoundly presentational space, dripping with irony, self-awareness, and deliberate reconstruction, must have been difficult. Home's root in feminist Art/Life experimentation resonates strongly for me, but I have to admit that I've always spent more time cringing in sympathy with such artists than analyzing their fortitude. After five years of living in a space meant for other people to view, that no one was viewing, it must be a profound relief to finally invert the space one last time, and make the private public, the domestic professional.
Home serves as a key to a practice that has woven itself into the recent history of community and political art in San Francisco. Do not miss this installation. Do not miss your chance to ask the artist questions. Don't miss seeing her in her fake/real habitat, adjusting herself to your presence, in a context built from the detritus of public and private life.
Home is open for walk-ins Monday-Wednesday 2-5 pm through November 26, 2008. Throughout the month of November, artist Eliza Barrios will be projecting a series of images on the exterior of the building. Email Megan Wilson for more information or for an appointment.
More information on Home at meganwilson.com.
posted by at 3:13 PM GMT | permanent link
As part of Home 1996-2008, I invited artists Gordon Winiemko and Jeff Foye to participate:
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Over the summer, Jeff and Gordon were approached by a progressive arts organization to participate in a series about "participation in the political process."
Their response was to emulate one of the most ubiquitous forums for participation our society has to offer — the focus group.
So they staged performative question and answer sessions first with the staff of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, then with friends and colleagues of the artist Kim Abeles, and finally with friends and colleagues of their sponsor org.
On November 7th, just three days after a victory of progressive, grass roots politics, Jeff and Gordon regaled invited guests with their findings.
Presented in the form of an equally performative multimedia presentation, those findings amounted to nothing less than a playful examination of the progressive arts ethic itself.
Photos by Chris Laraway (thank you!)
Gordon preparing night before
hostess preparing night of event
Focus Group of Focus Group
Focus Group of Focus Group
Gordon & Jeff
Focus Group of Focus Group
Focus Group of Focus Group
This is bound to be an expression during a Gordon presentation (me and my love, Eliza)
Mission 17 folks
Happy Birthday Sarah! (Lockhart)
Chaim Bertman eating cake
posted by at 9:44 AM GMT | permanent link
Megan Wilson is blogging about Facebook.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Yes, I'm eating every word I've said about social networking sites ... sort of. "They're such a time suck." (yes, they are) "I don't know how people have the time to spend writing on these sites, sending hugs, or winks, or whatever." (now I know ... you just do -- less sleep, less face-to-face social time, less television, etc.) "It's sooooo high school, nay, junior high." (yes, it is -- it's sort of like passing notes during class) "I pride myself in knowing that it's not easy for others to know what I'm doing at every moment." (hahahahahaha .... full gulp)
posted by at 5:18 PM GMT | permanent link
YES WE DID!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
posted by at 6:12 PM GMT | permanent link
OPEN HOME 1996 -2008
November 1, 2008
Maw Shein Win looking FABulous!
Amy Berk, Andy Cox, Benjamin & Jude
Ly Nguyen, James Espinas and Kai
Megan, Ly & Kai
The beautiful Amazons
Ella and Peter
Glen Helfand, Megan, Ishan Clemenco, and Cheryl Meeker
Eliza Barrios and Glen
Mario Lemos and friends
Kenneth Lo, Eliza, Matt Wolka, and Maw
Maw and Megan vamping
Eliza and Megan
Glen, Mario, Albert and Francesca Pastine, and Laurie O'Brien
K-Lo and Eliza
Dia & Michael Zheng, and Megan
posted by at 5:24 PM GMT | permanent link
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ebx and I spent our birthdays in San Pancho Mexico. It was a total treat and good R & R before the opening of Home 1996 - 2008.
We spent time with Eliza's good friends Glades & Marco and their two brilliant boys Rio and Gael, as well as many other folks who Eliza got to know last winter when she lived there for a couple of months. We also had the opportunity to paint a mural for the Festival Para Los Muertos (our first collaboration!!). I had been thinking about how I could honor my Dad for Dia De Muertos and this was perfect.
An hour north of Puerto Vallarta, San Pancho is a mix of locals from the area, expats from the U.S. and Europe, and wealthy people who have property there. The community that lives there is relatively tight-knit and committed to education (there are lots of kids), the environment, and arts. Like many places, development and developers are out of control, though given the global economic crisis, that's likely to change for the foreseeable furture.
Our pool for the week.
Eliza and Marco in Marco's jewelry studio/shop. Marco Huizar is the Oscar Niemeyer of jewelry.
My birthday at Chile Rellenos
Eliza's birthday breakfast with her new toy
Eliza's birthday at Cafe del Mar
Eliza and Glades
Mural meeting of Colectivo San Pancho (organizers of the Festival)
Rio and Gael at mural site
Eliza working on mural
Working on mural
Mural in progress (all are invited to add names to honor loved ones that have died)
Introducing ... Chocolate & Strawberry! or KWIK!
Gael, Nicte, and Rio's art show (we collected several pieces!)
Marco delivering our rings!
Glades and Eliza
Our new friend "El Gato" (aka Ezak Junior)
posted by at 4:10 PM GMT | permanent link
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Other Joe: The Hovering Lieberman Syndrome
posted by at 10:48 AM GMT | permanent link
Monday, October 13, 2008
God bless Bill Maher! Ebx and I saw Religulous this weekend and I have to say -- BRILLIANT!
Though I left wondering if maybe Bill and I are connected through some Higher Power: check it out! (scroll down to March 15, 2007)
and then there's THIS.
posted by at 8:23 PM GMT | permanent link