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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

100 Artists Perform Inside One Hole

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 11:00 AM

James Coquia's 12 Steps to Dealing with Obsession - BRYAN HEWITT
  • Bryan Hewitt
  • James Coquia's 12 Steps to Dealing with Obsession

An often-quoted creative motto (and business-commercial cliche) is, "Think outside the box," but this month SOMArts invited 100 artists to perform inside the box -- or, to be more accurate, inside its hole.

"Third Strike: 100 Performances for the Hole" welcomed on Dec. 10 some of the Bay Area's most experimental performers, each putting on a 2-minute work within the confines of "the hole" -- a 100-year-old former mechanics' pit on the floor of the main gallery. Past performances at this time-based art marathon have included a heavy metal band set, ritualistic offerings, and a woman shooting fireworks out of her crotch. This year, Occupy Wall Street, milk, money, nudity, and awkward silences were common motifs.

"We imagine this biennial event as a spectrometer... reflecting contemporary media and popular culture... in a way that is simultaneously intimate and macroscopic," gallery director Justin Hoover said.

Allan deSouza performs My Apologies. - BRYAN HEWITT
  • Bryan Hewitt
  • Allan deSouza performs My Apologies.

Allan deSouza, New Genres chair at the San Francisco Art Institute, may have hit a little too intimately that night. "I'm sorry most of you will never make it as artists," he proclaimed from within the hole's recess. His piece, appropriately tiled My Apologies and delivered in unenthused monotone, began with politically correct apologies to different minority groups. The list of meaningless mea culpas evoked the heartless rhetoric and constant damage-control we see in mainstream culture where apologies often come too late.

In a surprise appearance, Guillermo Gomez Peña -- inspired by deSouza -- stood in the hole asking racially sensitive questions stemming from his frustrations with the corporate art world.

"Whatever happened to bohemia?" He asked.

Amy Berk and Das Vegetal in Together We Can Defeat Capitalism - BRYAN HEWITT
  • Bryan Hewitt
  • Amy Berk and Das Vegetal in Together We Can Defeat Capitalism

Hoover's promise that "Third Strike" would incorporate aspects of contemporary media could not have been better fulfilled than by Claire Bain's self-explanatory, Photographs of the Audience Immediately Shared on Facebook. The pop culture reflections were covered by Ashley Lauren Saks, who channeled a rowdy Courtney Love in a white nightgown during an impressive karaoke-style performance of "Violet" as part of her pun-intended "Occupy Hole" piece. The Occupy movement inspired other performers such as Kate Getty taking the people's mic in Occupy My Hole, and Amy Berk and Das Vegetal's Together We Can Defeat Capitalism.

SOMArts left three spots open for last-minute sign-ups to encourage any spontaneous bursts of inspiration. The most intriguing of these was performed by USF visual arts chair Richard Kamler and partner-in-life-and-art Joya Cory. Together the couple disrobed slowly, citing the struggles of aging (cancer, surgery) yet reaffirming their 40-year commitment. That's the great thing about being old: You can get away with almost anything, even getting naked in public.

Isadora Frost and Natasha Matteson in Success Game, Experiment 2. - BRYAN HEWITT
  • Bryan Hewitt
  • Isadora Frost and Natasha Matteson in Success Game, Experiment 2.

Of course, young artists can also get away with baring it all and putting it on display. Macklin Kowal (Salad for Dessert), Jenny Galipo and Gina Clark (Sheet Scrub HONEY), Isadora Frost and Natasha Matteson (Success Game, Experiment 2) proved that, um, in the flesh.

Click through for photos from other noteworthy performers.

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