TV on Video


Former Whitney Museum of American Art Curator and current dean of the California College of the Arts, Lawrence Rinder has organized a small, three-artist show of television-influenced video work at San Francisco's Silverman Gallery. Taking the narrative conceits of the medium as a common thread, TV Honey connects work from two generations of artists by playing up their similar engagements with the desiring mechanics of viewing. A wonderfully bizarre and infrequently screened 1974 work by Lynda Benglis, 'The Amazing Bow Wow,' tells the story of a human-size hermaphroditic dog, who becomes the main attraction in both a traveling freak show and ultimately a violent Oedipal romance. The "can't look away" factor in her work is complemented by Joan Jonas's 'Vertical Roll.' Made in 1972, the artist plays two self-consciously alluring characters in a video that persistently short-circuits the viewer's engagement with the TV drama as the video frame continually "rolls" vertically off the screen in visual hiccups that recall an ancient television set with the v-hold knob turned slightly. Representing the contemporary progeny of these foundational television-focused video works, the show also features Oakland artist Desiree Holman's 2006-07 video 'The Magic Window.' The three-channel projection--exhibited here with a group of related drawings--emulates the sitcom trope of a family watching television together, but like Jonas' work in which the artifice disrupts the viewer's typical relationship to the narrative, the familiarity of the scene is interrupted by strange masks worn by the characters. Opening October 11th, the most striking similarity to emerge between the decade-crossing works, however, may be the shared sense of D.I.Y. chaos that runs through each of them--all three contain dance sequences that could prove to be particularly hilarious viewed side by side.