Frances Stark is currently on view at Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco for her third solo show, “MEMENTO MORI: towards a compendium of disseminations”. The exhibition ends March 9th so try to make it out to see her work before its too late.
When stepping into the exhibition you are confronted with various assemblages which are mostly comprised of what seems to be personal ephemera, which speak to Stark’s past time spent in San Francisco and the experiences she shared with the literary and visual art scenes during that time. In a sense they are collages, composed of imagery and text that Stark has encountered and brought into her work. Stark is known to explore the idea of image making and the written word, so juxtaposing the two in these paper pieces is a given. She is also known for her performance and video work, but currently not on view at the gallery. The work on view are constructed on foundations made of bright white butcher paper thats loosely hang and drape gracefully down the surface of the walls of the gallery. A few pieces have the paper extend pass the wall which roll onto the ground resembling seamless backdrops used in photo shoots to accentuate the objects or subjects that are being photographed. Stark has embraced the butcher paper which operate like a platform for the images, text and objects she includes to elevate their awareness of their surrounding counterparts in the work. By using these backdrops it becomes more clear of the connectivity between the elements Stark pushed into fruition in this exhibition.
Many of the words and visual imagery in Stark’s work are culled from popular culture, or to widen the spectrum, culture itself. Current events and themes can be seen in the work which cater to a wider audience that don’t necessarily have to be involved in the art world. Stark does manage to involve themes in the work that speak to art history, referencing artists from the depths of our past presenting somewhat of a loop within time dictated by her practice reaching the work’s current state of being and becoming. Her use of excerpts from novels, song lyrics, and poetry also function as pathways to new tangents to approach her work. I see these works as open ended conversations that spark mediations between the viewer and what they are accustomed to seeing or reading and what they are not, opening dialogues to be explored but with no specific conclusion or destination in mind. For some this may be a setback, but it is becoming more clear that a one way road to an artist’s intentions only leads to one destination. Stark is taking the opposite approach, beginning at a destination and offering multiple avenues and alleyways for viewers to approach her work.
-Contributed by Gregory Ito