July 18–October 7, 2012
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive,
University of California (BAM/PFA)
Woo Hon Fai Hall
2625 Durant Ave. #2250
Berkeley, CA 94720-2250
Hours: Wed–Sun, 11–5pm
Open until 9pm on L@TE Fridays
T 510 642 0808
Lutz Bacher, MATRIX 242
Since Lutz Bacher’s first MATRIX exhibition in 1993, the artist has become a leading figure in contemporary art. Recent exhibitions include a retrospective at MoMA PS1 and the 2012 Whitney Biennial. MATRIX 242 presents Bien Hoa, an important but rarely seen series from 2006–07.
Bien Hoa juxtaposes enlargements of photographs taken by a soldier in Vietnam named Walter, unearthed by the artist at a salvage store, with the versos of the originals which reveal the soldier/photographer’s handwritten annotations. His comments have a surprisingly casual tone, given his circumstances as a soldier stationed in Vietnam. At times, Walter’s notes sound almost like a tourist writing a postcard; in others, he seems to have been more concerned with the composition of the image than with the grisly content of a scene. Bacher’s enlargements invite us to hone in on these details and scrutinize the photographs aesthetically, as Walter directs: “This is a practice session that the Fire Department has every now and then. They are practicing on a burning helicopter. I messed up on my border at the top of the picture.”
Despite being composed of discarded photographs, Bien Hoa resonates as a pivotal description of a fraught moment in United States history. In exhuming these images and aligning her voice with Walter’s, Bacher recontextualizes her source material, opening it to interpretation and resisting any sense of its historical cohesion.
D-L Alvarez, MATRIX 243
D-L Alvarez’s first solo museum exhibition presents a haunting meditation on the violent end of innocence. The artist focuses on the uncanny moments when social and domestic deviance collides.
In Alvarez’s drawing series, The Closet (2006–07), we see an abstracted image of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978), repelling the attacks of a masked psychopath while trapped in a closet. The character’s expression of horror is echoed by the drawings’ highly fractured compositions, which appear to be the result of some kind of electronic interference or degraded technology. The Closet is shown with Something to Cry About (I) and (II) (2007), patchwork bodysuits made of children’s clothing arranged over wooden armatures. The ominous draping is both vulnerable and sinister, evoking the footed pajamas of cartoon-addled kids as well as the grisly outfits and other mementoes that the notorious murderer Ed Gein fashioned out of corpses’ skins.
With these two projects, Alvarez explores the aesthetic guises that sometimes mask unspeakable horrors. His drawings and sculptures conjure the psychic breaks that both constitute and disrupt identity.
MATRIX 242 and 243 are organized by Assistant Curator Dena Beard. The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.
Press contact: Peter Cavagnaro, pcavagnaro [at] berkeley.edu
Left: Lutz Bacher, Bien Hoa, 2006–07 (detail). Inkjet print mounted on aluminum, 24 x 36 inches. Courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco.
Right: D-L Alvarez, The Closet #14, 2006–07. Graphite on paper, 17 ½ x 21 ¼ inches. Courtesy of Derek Eller Gallery, New York.