Media Contact: Peter Cavagnaro, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 642-0365
Lutz Bacher / MATRIX 242 (July 18—October 7, 2012)
EXHIBITION PRESENTS AN IMPORTANT BUT RARELY SEEN SERIES FROM 2006–2007 THAT SHEDS LIGHT ON THE BERKELEY ARTIST’S OFTEN ELUSIVE PRACTICE
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The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Lutz Bacher / MATRIX 242. Now a leading figure in contemporary art, Bacher had her first BAM/PFA MATRIX exhibition in 1993. She has had recent solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 and Kunstverein München and was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial.
Many of Bacher’s works utilize found objects in unexpected ways. This series, Bien Hoa (2006–07), originated with a collection of Vietnam-era photographs discovered in a Berkeley salvage store.
Large inkjet reproductions of the black-and-white pictures float above handwritten notes written on the backs of the original prints. A man, known only as Walter, stationed at Vietnam’s Bien Hoa Air Force Base in 1969, is both the author of the notes and, frequently, the subject of the photographs. Viewers find Walter posing at a military desk with his section chief, in an armed helicopter, in sandbagged barracks, and at gunpoint “surrendering” to a Vietnamese woman. Other photographs depict the bleakness of military life during wartime—burned-out helicopters, fire drills, and base fences.
In the museum setting, Walter’s inscriptions—originally intended for an intimate audience—take on new meanings. His comments have a surprisingly casual tone, given his circumstances as a soldier stationed in Vietnam. At times, Walter’s notes sound almost like a tourist writing a postcard; in others, he seems to have been more concerned with the composition of the image than with the grisly content of a scene. Bacher’s enlargements invite us to hone in on these details and scrutinize the photographs aesthetically, as Walter directs: “This is a practice session that the Fire Department has every now and then. They are practicing on a burning helicopter. I messed up on my border at the top of the picture.”
Despite being composed of discarded photographs, Bien Hoa resonates as a pivotal description of a fraught moment in United States history. In exhuming these images and aligning her voice with Walter’s, Bacher recontextualizes her source material, opening it to interpretation and resisting any sense of its historical cohesion.
About the Artist
Lutz Bacher has had solo exhibitions at Kunstverein München, Munich; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. She was recently included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial in New York and previously participated in group shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Bacher lives and works in Berkeley and New York City.
MATRIX 242 is organized by Assistant Curator Dena Beard. The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
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