OF THE WILD
Utah Street Street / San
Francisco, CA 94103 / T 415-495-5454 / F 415-800-7206
Beuys, Tim Hawkinson, Birgit Jensen, Michael Light, Patricia
Piccinini, Alan Rath, Ed Ruscha, Kiki Smith, Helmut
SAGARMATHA 2010, 200 x 170 cm, Acryl/Leinwand), Fotos:
companion exhibition to Christian Houge's photographs, the
group show Call of the Wild features work that reflects our
primal, tenacious urge to explore the remote corners of the
world, and the simultaneous drives to conquer and embrace
nature. Artists include Joseph Beuys, Tim Hawkinson, Birgit
Jensen, Michael Light, Patricia Piccinini, Alan Rath, Ed
Ruscha, Kiki Smith and Helmut Wietz.
Performed at the Rene Block Gallery in New York in 1974, Joseph Beuys' action, "I
Like America and America Likes Me," exemplifies the yearning to embrace
the savage, untamed, and instinctual. For five days Beuys remained confined in
a room, interacting with a live coyote using symbolic props and gestures. The
37-minute film by Helmut Wietz documenting the performance reveals alternating
moments of harmonious co-existence and ominous threat between human and animal.
The shadowy image of a tall ship in Ed Ruscha's "Homeward Bound" calls
up associations of the golden age of voyage and adventure, while Birgit Jensen's
painting, "Sagarmatha," refers to Mt. Everest, the ultimate aspiration
of any mountaineer. Both works play on idealized notions of adventure that ignore
the likelihood of tragic consequences. Michael Light's FULL MOON series of photographs
depicting NASA's first forays into space points to our fierce determination to
conquer new frontiers under the most adverse conditions.
Tim Hawkinson's sculpture "Scout" takes the form of the fringed buckskin
outfit worn by Davy Crockett in the TV and movie vernacular of the 1960s. Not
only does it speak to Hollywood's romanticized notions of exploration, but also
to the role of the senses in discovery. Proportioned as a sensory homunculus,
Scout is a distorted scale model reflecting the relative number of nerve endings
in different parts of the human body.
The work of Patricia Piccinini also deals with the mutant body. Her hyper-realistic
sculptures envision transgenic, humanoid constructs - eerily lifelike hybrids
that are both repellant and loveable. Like Piccinini, Kiki Smith's works often
merge human and animal forms. The combination of woman and wolf is a frequent
occurrence, sometimes in altered versions of the story of Little Red Riding Hood
as one of harmonious union.
Alan Rath's robotic sculptures made with feathers, speakers, and custom electronics
are feats of engineering genius. Their uncannily animate qualities point to our
fascination with the power to engineer life itself, as evidenced by continuing
advances in biotechnology, and the increasingly blurred boundaries between the
natural and the artificial.