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A Breath of Air 

When: May 6-25 2009

The Iranian-American artist Ala Ebtekar is exhibiting a large mixed-media diptych on the Berkeley campus -- completing a nice antiwar hat trick with the previous Botero and Chagoya shows. It's timely again, too, with the egregious Messrs. Yoo & Ahmadinejad back in the news. Ebtekar, an alumnus of Tim Rollins' Kids of Survival, follows K.O.S. practice by painting images over collaged text: Here, various American missiles and bombs, wreathed in blue clouds, all rendered in a linear, calligraphic style, hover above blocks of Farsi and Arabic script from an eighty-year-old prayer book. The text reads as city blocks seen from above, of course. Chesterton said the lights of Broadway were a wonderland if you couldn't read. Were we ignorant of modern weaponry, this work would be elegantly beautiful; it's loaded, however, to the sentient. A Breath of Air runs through May 25 at TownsendCenter (UC Berkeley, Stephens Hall 200). or 510-643-9670.

— DeWitt Cheng


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