Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Apology
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art

On Apology is a study on the now prevalent spectacle of the public apology, and is produced by the graduating class of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at the CCA Wattis Institute. The exhibition consists of two floors of video, several walls of text, and a 20 page paper handout.

The videos I found most intriguing were Australian Shaun Gladwell’s Apologies 1-6, six videos running a total of 27 minutes. I saw two of the six videos. In each one, the camera is looking down a different two-lane road blurring and stretching into the desert. A road kill kangaroo lies in the gravel on the left side of the road, fairly close to the camera, and in focus.

In one video, a white tractor trailer and a smaller black vehicle are coming up the road. A motorcycle rider dressed completely in black, riding a black motorcycle, crosses the screen and appears to almost run over the kangaroo. As the motorcycle rider parks nearby and walks toward the kangaroo, it becomes clear that the film is in slow motion and the distances are distorted.

The rider looks like he is almost standing over the kangaroo, however he walks about thirty feet back to the kangaroo from his motorcycle. The tractor trailer and black vehicle, which were close when the film started, are taking forever to get closer.

The motorcycle rider carefully looks over the body of the kangaroo, gently touching its head while brushing away flies. The rider's slow motion hand movements suggest he is wafting incense in a religious ceremony. Eventually the rider picks up the kangaroo and wanders out into the road, as if apologizing for what had happened before he arrived.

Gladwell didn’t stage the kangaroos; each sequence was filmed where the kangaroo was found.

In addition to Shaun Gladwell, the exhibit includes works by Erick Beltrán, Mark Boulos, Keren Cytter, Omer Fast, Ragnar Kjartansson, Amalia Pica, Slavs and Tatars, Cassie Thornton, Dawn Weleski, and Artur Zmijewski.

Photo from Apology To Roadkill 2007, Sydney Morning Herald

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art On Apology
April 19 to May 19, 2012
Upper and Lower Galleries, Kent and Vicki Logan Galleries
1111 Eighth Street (at 16th and Wisconsin)
San Francisco

The CCA Wattis building appears to take up the whole block. Many rooms are just walls open to the high ceiling, reminiscent of a short, modern Cow Palace, except with wonderful natural light. Flash mob classes take place in the large wide center of the hall running the length of the building. Chairs, display tables and rolling billboards are moved into place for a class, and when it is over, people and equipment disperse quickly in all directions.

Some displays and projects from various design and graphics classes remain along the side walls. I walked along about 15 feet away, squinting while trying to make out the detail in each one without disturbing the small classes nearby.

One architectural model caught my eye. A large walled patio, built of tan cement, was populated with several white three-legged plastic tables, green and yellow shrubs, colorful curved rocks, and dark pools. Half the patio was shaded by a leaning wall awning above. I wondered why there were no chairs with the tables.

As I got further away, I looked back and realized it was an empty pizza box.

Parking is a little tight at CCA. If you don’t live close enough to walk, and don’t have a bicycle or motorcycle, take a cab. If you drive, I recommend a Smart car with curb feelers, a low profile windshield wiper, and the bumpers removed.

posted by Phil Gravitt

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