Void California: 1975–1989

Void California: 1975–1989

California College of the Arts (CCA)

Raymond Pettibon. I Thought California Would Be Different, 1989. Courtesy of Robert Berman Gallery.
February 24, 2016
Void California: 1975–1989

March 11–April 9, 2016

Opening: Friday, March 11, 6:30–8:30pm

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
Kent and Vicki Logan Galleries
360 Kansas Street (at 16th)
San Francisco, CA 94103-5130

T 415 355 9670


Void California surveys punk-inflected media emerging from California subcultures in the late 1970s and 1980s. Encompassing zines, photography, collage, video montage, documentary film, and sound collage, the exhibition presents its artists and musicians as subcultural anthropologists, documenting a world at the brink of disaster.

The exhibition takes as its starting point the aftermath of the Vietnam War and Ronald Reagan’s first bid for the presidency. Under the leadership of Reagan, California had become ground zero for neoconservative attacks on the social contract as well as the context for an array of violent episodes, including the Manson Family murders, the SLA abductions and bombings, the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, and the Jonestown massacre. To some of those who lived through it, the future looked bleak—a void, indeed.

New access to portable recording equipment, VCRs, and photocopiers allowed people to unravel top-down mass media control over communication. By appropriating and mocking the imagery of newspapers and TV in cheap, reproducible media, artists created an alternative account of the period.

In doing so they formed a self-invented community. Informed by extensive archival research among a network of artists, musicians, writers, and collectors, the exhibition charts a constellation of California artists and art forms.

Publications and artists included in the exhibition are Melody Sumner Carnahan, Randy Hussong, Cameron Jamie, Negativland, NOMAG (Los Angeles), Raymond Pettibon, Ruby Ray, Search & Destroy (San Francisco), Greta Snider, Matt Heckert of Survival Research Laboratories, Joe Rees / TargetVideo77, Vile (San Francisco), and We Got Power (LA).

An accompanying publication will reproduce works from the exhibition and supplementary ephemeral material used in the making of several pieces, as well as a curatorial project inspired by Melody Sumner Carnahan’s The Form (1979).

March 11
Opening reception for Void California: 1975–1989
Oakland-based writer, dancer, and musician Brontez Purnell will present a solo performance at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts to accompany the opening of Void California: 1975–1989.

March 18
VOID screening
San Francisco–based filmmaker Craig Baldwin will host a curated screening of film and video work about 197080s California culture, highlighting the experimental filmmakers of this period.

April 1
VOID salon
A free panel discussion about zines, the 1970s and 1980s, and more. With Tammy Rae Carland, Allan deSouza, Matt Wobensmith, and Fiamma Montezemolo.

April 8
Closing reception for Void California: 1975–1989 and catalogue launch
Visit the website and see our calendar for current information concerning exhibitions, related programs, screenings, lectures, and events. All programs are free and open to the public.


About CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice
Founded in 2003, CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice offers an expanded perspective on curating contemporary art and culture. Alongside traditional forms of exhibition making, this two-year master’s degree program emphasizes the momentous impact over the last half-century of artist-led initiatives, public art projects, site-specific commissions, and other experimental endeavors that take place beyond the confines of established venues. The program is distinguished by an international, interdisciplinary perspective, and it reflects San Francisco’s unique location and cultural history by placing a particular importance on the study of curatorial and artistic practices in Asia and Latin America.

About the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute dedicated to contemporary art. It was founded in 1998 at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. As an exhibition space, the Wattis Institute commissions and shows new work by artists from around the world. As a research institute, it dedicates an entire year to reflecting on the work of a single artist, which informs a regular series of public events, texts, and research by other relevant artists and thinkers. The Wattis Institute is a headquarters for contemporary art and ideas for everyone in the Bay Area. For more information about the Wattis Institute, visit wattis.org.

RSVP for Void California: 1975–1989
California College of the Arts (CCA)
February 24, 2016

Thank you for your RSVP.

California College of the Arts (CCA) will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.