Tag Archives: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Discovering ‘The Possible’ at Berkeley Art Museum

Fritz Haeg's Domestic Integrities, Part I. Photo: Berkeley Art Museum
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Over the next four months the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive is the site of a grand experiment optimistically titled The Possible. Rather than showcasing finished objects and artifacts, the building is hosting a series of interdisciplinary encounters involving nearly 100 artists and museumgoers organized by Oakland illustrator and renegade impresario David Wilson.

Built around interactive Sunday workshops featuring a dye lab, print shop, ceramics studio, and recording facility, The Possible sprawls through five galleries and, weather permitting, the museum’s sculpture garden, turning the institution into a beehive of activity that runs through May 25. Families are encouraged to attend the Kids Club gallery, which is designed to involve children in the creative process.

In preparing for the building’s closure at the end of the year, BAM seems to be stretching conventional notions of what an art museum is beyond recognition. As works are completed they’ll end up as part of The Possible’s installation. … Continue reading »

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Back to the Roots: Evan Ziporyn plays Berkeley

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People move to Berkeley for all kinds of reasons. For Evan Ziporyn the big draw was gamelan.

Best known as for his two-decade tenure in the Bang On A Can All Stars, the prolific composer and clarinet virtuoso was an undergrad at Yale in 1979 when he became entranced by Balinese music. On the same day that he experienced his gamelan epiphany, Ziporyn heard about an East Bay ensemble, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, recently launched in a Berkeley living room by Rachel Cooper, Michael Tenzer and the great Balinese composer I Wayan Suweca.

“They had just started but to me it seemed like they were already established,” says Ziporyn, who performs a solo recital at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive as part of BAM/PFA’s L@TE Friday Nights concert series. “That’s why I went to graduate school at Cal, to join Sekar Jaya, and I played with them until I left in 1990.” … Continue reading »

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Uncharted, Berkeley’s first ideas festival is 1 week away!

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The finishing touches are being applied to the program, the speakers, all world experts in their fields, are tweeting about their imminent appearance on stage in Berkeley, and the final decisions on wine pairings, music sets and lighting for the sure-to-be celebratory party at the art museum have been made. This time next week the inaugural Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas will be in full flow.

The program is bursting with entertaining and thought-provoking conversations. Here’s just a taste:

Browse the full program here; learn more about the speakers here.
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Review: ‘Yang Fudong: Estranged Paradise’ at BAM/PFA

Yang Fudong: The Evergreen Nature of Romantic Stories, 1999; chromogenic print; 34.65 x 47.24 in.; courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/New York, and ShanghART
Gallery, Shanghai.
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“Estranged Paradise” — the expansive mid-career survey of videos, video installations, photographs and films by contemporary Chinese artist Yang Fudong at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive — is a compelling personal exploration of what it means to be young, or simply alive, in China today. Through still and moving images, Yang  probes the condition of his fellow heirs to an ancient civilization that is transforming itself headlong from Maoist Communist collectivism into the capitalist, consumerist, rapidly urbanizing, still authoritarian country of his birth.

Co-organized by BAM adjunct curator Philippe Pirotte and curator Beatrix Ruf of the Kunsthalle Zurich in Switzerland, where it premiered earlier this year, “Estranged Paradise” brings to Berkeley one of the most influential figures in China’s contemporary art scene and independent cinema movement. Although not chronologically arranged, it offers a fascinating insight into the evolution of this brilliant artist, from his experimental early pieces to his more fully realized recent works. … Continue reading »

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Postpone the start of fall with Endless Summer Cinema

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Interested in postponing the start of fall? Then indulge in some classic films at the (free) Endless Summer Cinema outdoor movie series.

Endless Summer Cinema, presented by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and the Downtown Berkeley Association, features two nights of free short movies and feature films screened outdoors on the Crescent Lawn at Oxford Street between Center and Addison.

On Friday, Sept. 27, sit back, perhaps with a blanket, to enjoy Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of the 1950s vintage science fiction thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which tackled the perils of mass conformity. The newer film follows a health inspector (Donald Sutherland) who uncovers the existence of a growing species of “pod people” inhabiting the bodies of human clones hiding among us in plain sight. The movie was shot in San Francisco and, along with Sutherland, stars Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy. (115 minutes)
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Zarhouie Abdalian: Elegant forms reflect on free speech

Each envelope as before, 2013. By Zarouhie Abdalian. Acrylic vitrine, electronics, and steel.  Photo: Sibila Savage
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Although you might not guess it right away, Zarhouie Abdalian’s spare, enigmatic audio-visual sculptural installation at the Berkeley Art Museum has deep roots here. The Free Speech Movement was born at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, after all, and Abdalian’s elegant, cryptogrammatic forms, once they’re deciphered, add up poetically to a complex meditation on suppression of free speech and its implications for democracy.

Unlike overtly political art, Abdalian’s conceptual, minimalist ensemble acts upon the visitor stealthily, like a three-dimensional rebus. Its play between silence and sound, the visible and the invisible, demands imaginative leaps. The effort pays off with expanding reverberations of allusion and meaning. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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PARKS MAKE LIFE BETTER  The City of Berkeley is hosting Parks Make Life Better month, and this weekend a celebration at San Pablo Park will cap off the festivities. Volunteers will be able to plant trees across Berkeley from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., with transportation from San Pablo Park provided, followed by a community barbecue from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. The barbecue will be followed by a carnival and landscaping and tree-climbing demonstrations until 3 p.m. The event will begin at 2800 Park St. on Saturday July 20. Free admission. View the full Parks Make Life Better flier.
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Inspired appropriation redux: Nicole Eisenman in Berkeley

Nicole Eisenman: Tea Party, 2011; oil on canvas, 82 × 65 in.; Hort Family Collection. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.
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Try to conjure a pantheon of great painters from the 16th through the 21st centuries — the likes of Brueghel, Rubens, Renoir, Munch, Beckmann and Pollock — channeled through the sensibility of a contemporary artist with a diabolical sense of humor, a darkly critical take on culture and society, an eclectic appetite for influences from everywhere and extraordinary painterly skills, and you’d still never imagine the paintings in Nicole Eisenman/MATRIX 248 at the Berkeley Art Museum.

Her “Tea Party”, 2011 (above), reveals a quartet of hardcore white Americans (one’s even in clown-like white-face) hunkering down in their windowless survival bunker awaiting… what? The end times? The zombie apocalypse? The lone woman dozes, clutching a rifle. Two men furl sticks of dynamite while a decrepit, ragged Uncle Sam, tea bag dangling from one hand, hunches glassy-eyed over his American-eagle-decorated mug. Man’s best friend curls at his feet, fast asleep, next to an all-American hooked rug. The shelves behind them are stacked with supplies: cans of Bumble Bee tuna, a jug of water, gold bullion. It’s a group portrait of deluded, impotent defeat in the guise of readiness. … Continue reading »

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Inspired appropriation: Enrique Chagoya at Kala

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In our wired era of ubiquitous information and perpetual image bombardment, all of human history, cultural production included, is online and available for plunder: to sample, remix, recycle and repurpose. This embarrassment of riches has not been lost on artists. In music, film, TV, literature, performance, visual art, you name it, today’s artists steal voraciously from everywhere.

But when everything is up for grabs 24/7, it’s a rare artist who can exploit this vast archive to make distinctive works that speak eloquently to our contemporary condition. Maybe it takes an artist who’s a cultural hybrid him- or herself, who inhabits disparate communities and has a polyglot sensibility, to craft unexpected and compelling forms from the multifarious influences we are bathed in from birth.

Berkeley is currently hosting two exhibitions by contemporary visual artists who meet, even exceed, the requirements for inspired appropriation: “Freedom of Expression: The Work of Enrique Chagoya” at Kala Art Institute through July 6, and Nicole Eisenman/MATRIX 248 at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive through July 14. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Black Lilies
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FINAL COUNTDOWN Classical music concerts often have some programmatic idea: works that influenced each other, or pieces that provide an interesting tonal contrast. But The Opus Project has a particularly audacious notion: its Saturday night concert features 21 Opus 5 pieces by composers ranging from Stravinsky to Cage to Britten (it’s the centennial of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring — an Opus 5!). The multi-media Opus 5 follows on, unsurprisingly, from Opera 1 through 4 (pedantic, moi?). The earliest work on Saturday will be a movement from Schoenberg’s Peleas und Melisande; the most recent Rabbits Frolicking Through the Meadow by 20-year old Anthony Ragus, composed this year. Opus 5 is at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, at Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue. Tickets are from $10.  … Continue reading »

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On the cusp: Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive

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“It’s been a long hard road. Standing here today I feel both relief and excitement,” Lawrence Rinder, Director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive said, speaking on Tuesday in the shell of a building that will one day be a gleaming new cultural center in the heart of downtown Berkeley.

Building work has begun in earnest on converting the Art Moderne former UC Berkeley printing plant on Center St. into a strikingly contemporary museum designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Plant Construction, who have worked on many museums, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, were selected as lead contractors. The parking lot on Addison adjacent to the 1939 building has been largely demolished. Soon, major excavation work will begin, according to David Vogel, project director at EHDD Architecture, who are the appointed executing architects on the project. He spoke at a media preview held in the boarded up building on Tuesday morning this week. … Continue reading »

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Before new Berkeley art museum can rise, a demolition

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Major demolition is under way in downtown Berkeley on the site of the new location for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

The UC Berkeley-owned parking lot at 2150 Addison Street, on the corner of Oxford Street, is being torn down, and several large trees have been removed, to clear the ground for construction.

The UC Berkeley-owned museum is creating a new home, designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, from a 1930s former printing plant owned by the university. The new BMA/PFA is slated to open in the summer of 2016, bringing more bold contemporary architecture into the heart of Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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New aquatics center raises parking, planning concerns

UC Berkeley is planning to build a new Aquatics Center at 2222 Bancroft Way.
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UC Berkeley officials held a public hearing Wednesday night on plans to build a new aquatics center at 2222 Bancroft Ave., east of Oxford, and were told the one-story building is a lost opportunity for improving the area and would be too disruptive to parking.

UC hopes to start construction on the $15 million project in August to alleviate the crowding that now takes place at Spieker Pool. Currently, all 120 of Cal’s swimmers, divers and water polo athletes, as well as recreational swimmers, must use that facility, putting a severe strain on its capacity. … Continue reading »

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