In her search for the essence of everyday life, Ahwesh mines both high art and the ragged aesthetic of exploitation. The Deadman (1990), for example, is based on a Georges Bataille short story but has the trashy, random look of a Doris Wishman film, with its heroine wandering mindlessly through a world of sex and murder. (Legendary '60s soft-core auteur Wishman is an acknowledged influence; 1990's The Color of Love is dedicated to her.) Films like The Color of Love, a dazzling 10-minute "rescued" hard-core loop that decoratively disintegrates before our eyes, seem calculated to provoke the bluenoses who obsess over such matters. But even when the material is inflammatory -- as in The Deadman, with its extensive nudity strip-bar orgy -- Ahwesh's cutting humor provides welcome leavening. The series begins Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-2787.
-- Gary Morris