Sim World 

Re:con-figure ushers in new gallery space for Kala Institute.

Kala Art Institute's Heinz Avenue studio in Berkeley has been known for thirty years to Bay Area printmakers. And with the opening of a new, 2,000-square-foot gallery around the corner, Kala now has a large, airy display space that will undoubtedly anchor the emerging (and as yet unnamed) arts district along San Pablo Avenue.

In the inaugural show, re:con-figure, eleven artists explore the contemporary mediasphere of  "continuously streaming images and information" through works in print, digital collage, photography, video, and sculpture. Adriane Colburn interprets her Arctic expedition experience with "For the Deep," a large abstract wall collage of mapping and seismographic motifs equipped with tape-recorded ocean sounds emitted from spyglass-shaped speakers. Midori Harima makes ghostly life-sized sculptures of a coyote, a cobra, and herself as a young girl, their paper skins made from collaged photocopies. Randy Hussong's "Holy Mother of God That's a Lot of Baseballs" takes a satirical look at sport and religion: a Madonna stands in a batter's cage amid a heap of cubic baseballs. Packard Jennings takes on cultural politics with his anachronistic video montage, "Afghanistan 1985," mixing snippets of American movies (Rambo, The Searchers) with an Afghan film on the Russian invasion: Taliban "freedom fighters" and Russian baddies trade taunts with Wayne and Reagan, the heroes of "Fort Culver" sound stages in WWII. Jeff Kao, Srdjan Loncar, and Bayeté Ross Smith also comment on current events. Kao's  "Crush on Nature" suspends a cardboard model of a half-tracked troop carrier above a sleeping homeless person, while Loncar's "Value" presents our cultural ideal, gold-plated pistol cases full of loot (actually wooden bricks covered with inkjet-print greenbacks). Smith creates photographic portrait-targets (e.g., "Jane Doe 1: Unidentified Black Female") and films his subjects as they blast away at their target selves with paintball guns. Scott Kildall/Victoria Scott and Leslie Snows explore the construction of imagery: Kildall/Scott use computers to design paper sculptures of various proverbial objects ("Can of Worms," "Pot of Gold," "Red Herring"), which they juxtapose with printouts of the cutout shapes used to construct them; Snows employs scanned and manipulated digital imagery in her imaginary landscape collages. Finally, Gary Nakamoto takes time-lapse photographs of surgical procedures, with clouds of medical actors hovering over frozen patients, as in "C Section: Twins, 39 Minutes." Re:con-figure runs through July 27 at Kala Gallery (2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley). Kala.org or 510-841-7000

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