Real/Unreal 

An activist's artistic double-take on Life in These United States.

Reader's Digest humor may be safely benign, but mainstream "real American" political culture has been nasty, brutish, and short-tempered for sometime now — to our detriment. Construing internal politics as partisan war, we've missed global challenges; heady with our Cold War victory, we blithely believed our own Good-Empire PR: our greatness as a people, our pure motives, and the wonder-working power of our markets (which, incidentally, we should resist changing because, good lord willing, we might be billionaires someday). The last superpower standing, praised by Madeline Albright as "the indispensable country" a millennium ago (okay, only eleven years), now looks like another tottering imperial palooka. Had we but known.

It's not that magical thinking was the only option available. The Bay Area is fortunate in its wealth of informed dissent (call it San Francisco Values; say it loud) — a counterweight to officialdom's "faith-based reality." Maria Gilardin is a respected independent activist writer, journalist, and radio producer who explores ecological and globalization issues on the Internet (with free mp3 downloads), on progressive radio, and on CDs. Her web site/radio program, Time of Useful Consciousness (TUCRadio.org), takes its name from aeronautics: "the time between the onset of oxygen deficiency and the loss of consciousness ... the brief moments in which a pilot may save the plane." She's also an engaged political and satirical artist.

Toasting the End of Capitalism at NoneSuch Space is Gilardin's two-pronged take on the state of the nation. Her social-documentarian photographs include "Earthquake, San Francisco Marina," showing a Loma-Prieta-damaged building under TV klieg lights; "Frank Zappa at KPFA," a 1990 portrait of the iconoclastic Mother of Invention, an "electric power source of acerbic intensity"; "Bixby Beach," with its upended auto carcass on the sand; and "Old West Hotel," depicting a playful Lawrence Ferlinghetti at his rural cabin. Her Dadaist/Surrealist montages, scanned and printed as archival giclée prints, include "Farm Wrestling," showing a farmer regarding us sadly as white- and blue-collared arms fight for his property; "Tasting Room," in which a gigantic turkey dinner sits on a showroom floor next to Cadillacs (one afire); and "Hard Rain," a scene of eco-apocalypse, with buildings crumbling and burning, and cars falling from a flaming heaven. Straddling fact and artifice is "No War," a digital image of stacked televisions, camouflage-painted. Can capitalism learn to behave? Stay tuned. Through August 23 at NoneSuch Space (2865 Broadway, Oakland). Paragon-Media.org/nonesuchspace or 510-625-1600.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Visual Art

  • Identity Politics

    In Who Is Oakland? artists with varying standpoints converge at the Oakland Museum of California to propose answers to the question of Oakland's identity.
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • Painting Made Novel

    In New Paintings, artists unravel the concept of painting by approaching the art form through unconventional techniques.
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • These Bold Artists Want to Alleviate Your Anxiety

    For Twice in a While, Jess Wheelock and Cara Levine illustrate the exhaustion of endurance at Royal Nonesuch gallery.
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

  • Making History

    In one UC Berkeley class about Bay Area social movements, students' homework contributes to a public community history project.
  • Identity Politics

    In Who Is Oakland? artists with varying standpoints converge at the Oakland Museum of California to propose answers to the question of Oakland's identity.
  • Age Play

    Because math is hard.
  • Free Will Astrology

    Horoscopes for the week of April 30­–May 6, 2015.
  • Now Is Your Chance to Dance

    For Bay Area Dance Week, companies and studios across the Bay Area throw open their doors and ask the community to join in.

Special Reports

Taste, Spring 2015

Everything you need to know about dining in and out in the East Bay.

Insider's Guide 2015

Everything you need to know about the East Bay's hidden shopping, nightlife, dining, annual events, and more.

© 2015 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation