08 September 2008

coming from the slience on the dock of the bay

While we were doing some industrial sized laundry in San Francisco (in which we discovered that Playa dust + water + dryer = baked playa clay) the Very Understanding Girlfriend happened upon a gallery with a show entitled 'The Art of Democracy: War and Empire', and with a title like that how could we resist.

The show brings together a number of local (Bay Area) and international (Fernando Botero, amongst others) artists in paint, print and installation pieces that capture their reactions to American military misadventures of the last eight years. The exhibition is part of a wider movement across the US, and is hosted in San Francisco by the Meridian Gallery, a non-profit organisation who are mixing film screenings, book readings and live music with the gallery exhibition between now and election night!

The exhibition itself is amazing, with two works by Botero depicting atrocities in Abu Ghraib in his familiar 'plump' style, and an arresting glass and metal installation by Bella Freidman, whom I had the opportunity to chat with while I took a wander around. The majority of the work is by local artists, and I was drawn immediately to two works that I subsequently purchased.

'Poppies/Amapolas' is a print by Fernando Marti, an Ecuadorian artist, designer and activist living in San Francisco. The paralleling of Guantanamo detainees in their familiar orange jumpsuits with a field of poppies manages to (probably intentionally) evoke Hokusai by capturing great energy and ideas in a unusually calming and tranquil manner.

'A Breath of Air' by Iranian/American artist Ala Ebtakar, takes pages from an 80-year old Farsi and Arabic prayer manual that he found in a Tehran bazaar and covers them in paintings of clouds and falling bombs. As with Marti's 'Poppies' I found this evocative of Hokusai or Hiroshige, and found the idea of images depicted across a Farsi semi-religious text compelling in its taboo breaking.

I won't be able to pick up either until after the election when the exhibition closes, so if you are in the Bay Area between now and then I highly recommend a visit to the gallery.

'The Art of Democracy' at the Meridian Gallery
Fernando Marti
Ala Ebtekar


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