November 23, 2007 - CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts - Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War
November 23, 2007

Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War

Bruce Conner, Crossroads, 1976
Courtesy the artist and Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

Apocalypse Now:
The Theater of War

Nov. 29, 2007 – Jan. 26, 2008

California College of the Arts
San Francisco CA 94107
T: 415.551.9210

“Some day this war’s gonna end.”
Lieutenant Colonel William Kilgore, Apocalypse Now

An attack curated by Jennifer Allora, Guillermo Calzadilla, and Jens Hoffmann

Participating artists: Antonin Artaud, Max Beckmann, Margaret Bourke-White, Mathew Brady, Jacques Callot, Bruce Conner, Leonardo da Vinci, Otto Dix, Ernst Friedrich, Francisco de Goya, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Ernst Jünger, Jon Kessler, Käthe Kollwitz, Lewis Milestone, Bruce Nauman, Pino Pascali, Pablo Picasso, Alain Resnais, Alexander Rodchenko, Martha Rosler, Luigi Russolo, Kurt Schwitters, Richard Serra, Mark Twain

With artifacts, records, films, artworks, and reproductions documenting, remembering, and presenting wars both historical and contemporary

Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War examines the philosophical terrain of war. Featuring images and sounds related to war and the impact war has on the human mind, the exhibition is more than a simple illustration of war. Instead it describes war as a universal idea of human antagonism, a set of languages and iconographies embedded in our everyday lives and broader social consciousness. Beyond an actual, specific conflict, it confronts its audience with the unpalatable side of humanity, the scenes and situations that
resist engagement.

Apocalypse Now includes works by artists both historical and contemporary as well as a diverse range of cultural artifacts. Many of the pieces are deliberately conceived to block, resist, and repel the visitor, utilizing strategies of disruption, violence, and shock to function almost as weapons of attack. In addressing the connection between art and war, the exhibition looks at the aestheticization of horror, art that glorifies war versus art of protest, and the historical uses and abuses of imagery.

The show also rejects the ordinary “rules of engagement” of exhibition making in which the audience is seduced by the artworks and gently guided through the galleries. Instead, the gallery environment is inspired by bunker architecture and camouflage. The works are installed so that they wage war not only on the visitor, but also on one another. Struggle, conflict, and resistance are built into each element of the exhibition to test the audience’s visual and personal boundaries.

Apocalypse Now takes its inspiration from the central position San Francisco and the Bay Area have occupied in the history of the American antiwar movement, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s, and it is intended as a revival of that pacifist tradition. It takes its title from Francis Ford Coppola’s antiwar epic of the same name and references numerous aspects of the film, including its overarching framework as a journey through some of the horrors, brutalities, and irrationalities of war. Also like the film it aims to create an assault on the audience, and through that attack to elicit a powerful reaction to war’s monstrosity.

About the CCA Wattis Institute
The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts was established in 1998 in San Francisco at California College of the Arts. It serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of international contemporary art and curatorial practice. Through groundbreaking exhibitions, the Capp Street Project residency program, lectures, symposia, and publications, the Wattis Institute has become one of the leading art institutions in the United States and an active site for contemporary culture in the Bay Area.

Lead sponsorship for Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War is provided by the American
Center Foundation.

Founding support for CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts programs has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Judy and Bill Timken. Generous support provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Ann Hatch and Paul Discoe, and the CCA Curator’s Forum.

Apocalypse Now is presented concurrently with Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s solo exhibition Sediments, Sentiments (Figures of Speech) at the San Francisco Art Institute, Walter and McBean Galleries, on view October 19 – December 15, 2007.

Dedicated to the memory of Ernst Friedrich

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
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