Megan Wilson  
megawilson@aol.com
Writings > The World on Its Head
 

The World on Its Head
San Francisco Art Institute
Through November 25

The Flemish notion of “der werlde op zijn kop” or “the world upside-down” accurately describes this wacky exhibition of nine contemporary artists from Belgium, a country that reflects a complex confluence of cultures, languages and political factions. These challenges are not unlike the ones strongly felt today in San Francisco, making the venue for this show especially interesting. Individually, the work does appear to be similar to the conceptual, ironic, abject sensibility of much of the art currently created in the Bay Area. However, as a collective body it feels distinctly of its own origins. At the entrance to the gallery, and setting the tone for this topsy-turvy ride is Christine Clinckx's feminist video “I Wanna Be Loved by You.” A blond wigged woman flies through the streets of Antwerp on a red rocket maniacally singing the Marilyn Monroe classic. Also influenced by the roles and power of women, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven's multimedia “Head Nurse” project combines a series of primitive pornographic pinups with abstract high-tech concepts of artificial intelligence. Of a more controversial nature are Wim Delvoye's tattooed pigs, Henry and Katerina. Delvoye had local tattoo artist Karen Rose permanently mark the two animals, transforming the pair into works of art and sparing them the slaughterhouse. Originally the pigs were housed in a pen atop the Art Institute's roof, however due to their rapid two pound a day growth they have since been placed in a new home. A video chronicling the pigs' path to art-stardom is still on view. Additionally, the exhibition features several intriguing interactive pieces, including Honore (accent on e)'O's playful PVC sculptural installation. This project is also a good example of how the Art Institute is interweaving its academic and public programming to bring international artists in contact with students through participation in seminars and studio visits, as well as in contact with the greater Bay Area through the exhibitions and public lectures.

Walter & McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco Art Institute
Mon. – Sat. 11a.m. – 6 p.m.
(415) 749-4507 (Megan Wilson)