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Follies of the Digital Arcade 

When: Jan. 26-March 17 2012

Step right up, connoisseurs of anachronisms! Christina Corfield examines late 19th-century America with a playful irony that may be dangerous to "infants and individuals of feeble constitution." The harnessing of electricity and the selling of quack nostrums and pseudo-scientific nonsense are the subjects of a video, The Body Electric, with actors mouthing antiquated patter ("Ain't she a peach!") amid slapdash painted props; bombastic broadsheets ("Vaporous Subjugation"); piquant posters in the style of Paris ("Bal Electrique," "Lucille, the White City, "Miss California Lights Up the Nite"); and cautionary paintings depicting threats to normalcy with some of the mordant relish of Edward Gorey. Witness young girls hypnotizing stage magicians or levitating; electrical goblins in mirrors and nude visions in sunbeams; women becoming manly and men becoming womanly, on ether; and children, enslaved to the demon wireless. It can't happen here, you say? Follies of the Digital Arcade runs through March 17 at Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 510-444-9140 or

— DeWitt Cheng


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