[A special election-week Collection Rotation by San Francisco-based artist & curator Chris Sollars, whose experimental documentary C RED BLUE J will be screening in the Wattis theater Nov 4. All works collection SFMOMA & listed in detail at the bottom of this post.]
At Home in Red & Blue Brother Sister America
Growing up, my sister Jennifer was Red and I was Blue, between the colors of objects in our rooms, beds, clothes, and backpacks. Looking back, I think it’s strange that growing up during the 70s and 80s Reagan’s Republican America appropriated Socialist RED from the USSR.
The opening dream of my recent film C RED BLUE J was a playful way to study the color red used in politics: A Red Phone rings and alerts us of the Enemy—the British Red Coats, The Red Man (not Karl Marx, but he is next), Soviet Red, Red China—and is intercut with a Red finger painting from my childhood, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, and Red USA Olympic Athlete Jackets. The USA Formal Athlete Jackets, ironically, are from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, boycotted by the Soviet Union. I almost think it was a conscious decision to appropriate the “Enemy’s” color as a way to diffuse or re-appropriate it.
In the title C RED BLUE J, C is for Christopher, J is for Jennifer and the RED & BLUE is between us. It also is a play on words: to See a Red Blue Jay, something you would never see but could imagine. Here to coincide with the election I am using C RED BLUE J as a model and method for selecting works from the SFMOMA collection.
I’ve squeezed some of my favorite artists from the collection into the mix. Gordon Matta-Clark, Hans Haacke, Pipilotti Rist, Phillip Guston, Robert Gober, and Edward Kienholz. New favorites from recent visits include Untitled [Man holding eagle with spread wings] and Tim Gardner’s Untitled (S with Mt. Robson). (Not only is “S” holding a Mt Beer can in front of a mountain, the beer is a BUScH!)
I’ve included Nauman’s Study for Hologram, in part because of his influence (along with William Wegman’s) both on my work and my voice in C RED BLUE J. There my voice is presented by cutting back and forth between close-ups of my eyes and mouth while talking. Here, Nauman’s Study suggests to me ideas of self-censorship in America. Friedlander’s House on Highway and Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting (one of my favorite works of all time) have changed for me, both from reconsidering the construction and deconstruction of my childhood homes, and since the housing market collapse. It’s great that these works are so accessible and constant but continuously shifting and changing in meaning as the world does.
The personal narrative in this sequence of works is further activated for me through the inclusion of children. Boys and Girls as Brother and Sister add a playfulness to the RED & BLUE pairings. This also allows for my sister and I to be included in the series of works selected from the collection.
[Works, in order of appearance: Mathew B. Brady, Untitled (Portrait of a Brother and Sister) ca. 1850; Ellsworth Kelly, Blue/Red-Orange, 1970-1972, © Ellsworth Kelly; Bill Owens, 4th of July Parade, Livermore, California, 1970s, © Bill Owens; Hans Haacke, Blue Sail, 1964-1965, © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Unknown, Untitled [Baby on Red Velvet Chair] ca. 1870; Ann Hamilton, Indigo Blue, 1991/2007, © Ann Hamilton; Barry McGee, Untitled, 1996, © Barry McGee; Thomas Frederick Arndt, Inauguration Parade, Washington, D.C., January 20, 1989, 1989, © Thomas Frederick Arndt; Tim Gardner, Untitled (S with Mt. Robson), 2002, © Tim Gardner; Pipilotti Rist, Stir Heart, Rinse Heart, 2004, © Pipilotti Rist; Philip Guston, Blue Light, 1975, © Estate of Philip Guston; Shiro Kuramata, Cappellini, Manufacturer, Revolving Cabinet, 1970; Rineke Dijkstra, Odessa, Ukraine, August 4, 1993, 1993, © Rineke Dijkstra; Bill Owens, Tidy Bowl, Walnut Creek, 1979, © Bill Owens; Anna Atkins, Ceylon, ca. 1850; Edward Kienholz, Tomorrow’s Leaders Are Busy Tonight, 1961, © Edward Kienholz Estate; William Heick, Thomas, Red Arrow Dump, 1949, © William Heick; Robert Gober, Rat Bait, 1992, © Robert Gober, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; Gerhard Richter, Spiegel, blutrot (Blood Red Mirror), 1991, © Gerhard Richter; Robert Gober, Newspaper, 1992, © Robert Gober, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; Karim Rashid, V-Soul, 1999, © Karim Rashid; Emmet Gowin,Elijah and Donna Jo, Danville, Virginia, 1971, © Emmet and Edith Gowin, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York; Bruce Nauman, Study for Hologram, 1970, © 2008 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Lee Friedlander, Colorado, 1967, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Lee Friedlander, House on Highway, 1975, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting,1974, © 2008 Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Unknown, Untitled [African American Woman with Two White Children], ca. 1860; Alexander Girard, Salt and Pepper Shaker for La Fonda del Sol Restaurant, New York, ca. 1960; Unknown, American, Untitled [Man holding eagle with spread wings] * n.d.]
Chris Sollars‘ work revolves around the reclamation and subversion of public space through urban interventions, the results of which are integrated into mixed media video installations. Chris is also director and curator of 667Shotwell, which he started in 2001, during the wake of disappearing San Francisco art-spaces. The recently completed C RED BLUE J is an experimental documentary featuring his sister, who works for the Bush Administration, his Born Again father, and his Lesbian mother to illustrate the complications of division during the 2004 Presidential election.