Friday, April 24th
7-8pm: Radio Free Pocha Bus Tour #1
8pm: Brian Catling Performance
8:30-9:30pm: Radio Free Pocha Bus Tour #2
Join us this Friday, April 24th as we infect our current exhibition A Journal of the Plague Year with the first West Coast performance by celebrated UK artist Brian Catling and a roving bus tour featuring the radio archive of SF performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña.
"Bringing Brian Catling…is like importing a high-grade virus. The city will never recover." (Iain Sinclair)
"Brian Catling's performances, writings and curations offer sardonic poignancy, vivid melodrama and shocking discomforts. He is straight-faced, enigmatic and twinkling, projecting a presence somewhere between hilarity, menace and madness.” (Nick James, editor of Sight and Sound)
Since the 1970’s, Brian Catling has crafted a fierce oeuvre of black comedy, fantasy, and visceral performance that, in the words of the critic Ian Hunt, mount a collective "tirade against the ossification of practices and actions into roles and careers." Alan Moore, author of Watchmen and V For Vendetta, hailed Catling's recently published novel The Vorrh as a "phosphorescent masterpiece."
Students from the San Francisco Art Institute bring us Mexican Bus 2.0. The radio-archive of performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña will be broadcast in the spirit of the original Mexican Bus Tour, El Corazon de la Mission. All tours will begin and end at The Lab. Please RSVP here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/mexican-bus-audio-tour-20-tickets-16603525592
Brian Catling (b.1948, London) is Professor of Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, University of Oxford. In 2001 he founded the international performance group The Wolf In The Winter. Recent solo performances include Cyclops at the Liverpool Biennial 2010, The Art of the Living Experiment, Liverpool & Grand Rapids 2015, and the alarming Mr. Rapehead at the ICA, London, 2010, which toured to Germany, Holland and Spain. Recent larger solo shows include Antix, Matt’s Gallery, London, 2006, and Brian Catling & the head of ‘Bobby Awl’, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh 2008, and Quill Two at Dilston Grove, London, 2011.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (b. 1978, Mexico City) resides in San Francisco where he is artistic director of La Pocha Nostra. His pioneering work in performance, video, installation, poetry, journalism, photography, cultural theory and radical pedagogy, explores cross-cultural issues, immigration, the politics of language, the politics of the body, “extreme culture” and new technologies. A MacArthur Fellow and American Book Award winner, he is a regular contributor to National Public Ratio, a writer for newspapers and magazines in the US, Mexico, and Europe and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT). For twenty-five years, Gómez-Peña has contributed to the cultural debates of our times staging legendary performance pieces such as, “Border Brujo” (1998), “The Couple in the Cage” (1992), “The Crucifiction Project” (1994), “Temple of Confessions” (1995), “The Mexterminator Project” (1994), The Living Museum of Fetishized Identities (1999-2002) and the Mapa/Corpo series (2004-2007).
Lygia Pape, Divisor (1968 - 2013). Photograph and façade print of a street performance, performed in Central, Hong Kong, 2013.
Opening: Wednesday, April 1, 6–7:30pm at Kadist SF, 7:30–9pm at The Lab
Exhibition Dates: April 1–May 9, 2015
Gallery Hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 2–7pm
This is two-venue exhibition, co-presented at:
The Lab, 2948 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 and
Kadist Art Foundation, 3295 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Artists: Ai Weiwei, Asco, Bernd Behr, Natalia Sui-hung Chan, Oscar Chan Yik Long, Yin-Ju Chen, George Chinnery, Megan Cope, Sergio de La Torre, Dung Kai-cheung, Larry Feign, James T. Hong, Rustam Khalfin, Henry Kiyama, Irene Kopelman, Firenze Lai, Lam Qua, Dorothea Lange, Lee Kit, Len Lye, Gabriel Leung, Ma Liuming, Paul McCarthy, Fionnuala McHugh, Moe Satt, Josef Ng, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Yoshua Okón, Pak Sheung Chuen, Lygia Pape, Para/Site Art Criticism Class 2003, Anand Patwardhan, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Spicer / Kevin Killian, Shooshie Sulaiman, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Adrian Wong, Ming Wong, Ricky Yeung Sau-churk, Samson Young, Zuni Icosahedron/Mathias Woo & Edward Lam
A Journal of the Plague Year was first shown at Para Site, Hong Kong during the summer of 2013. Conceived as a touring exhibition, its center of gravity shifts under the influence of magnetic forces in each location on its itinerary. Nevertheless, each iteration departs from and remains strongly connected to an exploration of the events that affected Hong Kong in the spring of 2003: the most significant airborne epidemic in recent years–the SARS crisis–coupled with the tragic death of pop figure and pan-Asian icon Leslie Cheung.
Stemming from its colonial past, Hong Kong has internalized a history of epidemics and representation as an infected land waiting to be conquered from nature, disease, and oriental habits in order to be made healthy, modern, and profitable. Culminating in the discovery of the bacteria causing the plague during an 1894 epidemic in Hong Kong, these narratives contributed to a dubious association of the disease with Asia, and heightened the infamous "yellow peril" racist discourse in Europe and America at the time. For example, San Francisco’s plague epidemic of 1900-1904 was centralized in its Chinatown, and was part of the same epidemic wave that affected Hong Kong. These facts, together with the virulent racism in California at the time, further intensified the association between disease and Asian populations.
Departing from these events, A Journal of the Plague Year navigates disparate but interconnected narratives in order to contribute to a critical discussion about recent history, the implications of which extend beyond Hong Kong and beyond the realm of medicine. Through the contributions of artists, shown alongside historical artifacts and pop-culture ephemera, the exhibition confronts fear of contamination (both physiological and cultural) and the projections and prejudices that emerge from societies that encounter alterity. The exhibition also gathers documentation of a selection of performances that have destabilized mechanisms of hatred and politics of differentiation, which are based on dehumanizing the body of ‘the other’. This experience is perpetually fabricated everywhere, especially in societies where immigrants were and are still frequently represented as pests, as a disease that sickens the homogenous social body. Each of these performance pieces, places the fragile but individualized human body on the frontline at various moments of historical transformation and rupture and in different corners of the globe: the identity struggles of Chicano communities in the US in the 1970’s; the highly insecure Hong Kong of the 1980s, foreshadowing its handover to Mainland China; China itself during its traumatic post-Tiananmen years; Singapore and the last chapters of the Lee Kuan Yew era; Kazakhstan at the dawn of nationhood and after the fall of the Soviet Union; and finally, Myanmar amidst its current transformation, under the specter of a possible democracy and growing rejection of Muslims.
Anti-Chinese sentiments, which are still strongly present in the public sphere of Hong Kong (its anti-Mainland China variation being one facet of the more general anti-Chinese complex), as well as in other parts of Asia, are addressed through a historical framework that includes the Western world’s anti-Chinese immigration prejudices during the early 20th century. California and San Francisco were deeply affected by these prejudices, through the history of Chinese immigration in relation to the Gold Rush, the 19th century railway construction in the Western United States, and the subsequent Chinese Exclusion Act. These events make this exhibition highly relevant in a context that has not entirely moved beyond the stereotypes of its past centuries, even as it finds itself ever more deeply entangled in an emerging Asia-Pacific geopolitics of power. The exhibition thus visits and revisits the traces of such prejudices in California today and their contemporary cultural significance, while considering a wider picture of immigration in the US and its current processes of othering.
Curators: Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero
Research Collaborators: Marie Martraire and Xiaoyu Weng