Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Performing tricks in San Francisco by Alex Hetheringont

Silverman Gallery has some new press:

"Jessica Silverman, Silverman Gallery, and This is A Myth, Ben Shaffer

Silverman Gallery has occupied two spaces in San Francisco: it started in a basement space in an industrial district of the city, however its present home is a white store-like space in Sutter Street, closer to the activities of the financial and retail quarters. It retains, though, a vigorous on-the-edge mind-set, occupying a territory between its Fluxus inspirations (Sliverman’s grandparents own North America’s largest collection of Fluxus work) and an explicitly ‘emergent’ program working with local and international artists.

Jessica Silverman, who has run the gallery since its inception in 2006, has created a forceful voice in the San Francisco scene by generating a program that neatly links the city and its artists with operations across the globe. Her roster of artists includes TV addict visual artist Desirée Holman, currently a recipient of a major award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the beguiling pencil drawings of Israeli, Los Angeles-based Yuval Pudik and the photography of artist Job Piston, exploring sexuality, intimacy and voyeurism

It is though a more spiritually considered magical installation that takes over Silverman for the transition from 2008 to 2009. Los Angeles-based Ben Shaffer’s This Is A Myth fills the gallery with numerous drawings, paintings, sculptures, liquor (‘spirits’) and mirrored video projections that ruminate on chaos and order, myth, consciousness and narrative. The installation is the result of a series of emails he sent to friends, a kind of electronic train of thought rendered here as sketchy, imprecise, colourful, golden interactions: part-painting, part-drawing, part-object. Shaffer is obsessed with the construct of meaning within symbols and here he explores gender, the sacred, religion, spiritualism and alchemy through the distortion of their symbolic terminology. The effect is a poetic tangle of restless ideas and subtle gestures that rely on sympathy and acquaintance with spiritualism and its codes and an openness to experience their hallucinatory persuasions. Shaffer’s myth making is an alluring activity, one that questions our belief systems and the potency of these symbols that turn ‘beliefs’ and ‘truths’ from abstractions to realities."

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