Glamorgeddon: The Spectacle, January 8–February 4, 2015

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Glamorgeddon: The Spectacle, a group exhibition presented by SOMArts Cultural Center and on view with free admission Thursday, January 8th through Wednesday, February 4th, 2015, brings together visual, media and performing artists in a critical response to and free-form celebration of the concept of glamour. Curated by Johanna Poethig, with co-curators Angelica Muro and Hector Dionicio Mendoza, Glamorgeddon pushes back against the ways in which we consciously or unconsciously accept the logic of prevailing capitalist, media-generated spectacles.

Glamorgeddon is the first of three SOMArts Commons Curatorial Residency exhibitions in 2015, and builds upon the builds upon the elusive concept of glamour in relation to camp, kitsch and abjection as instigated by artists such as filmmaker and photographer John Waters and Debora Iyall of Romeo Void when Poethig mounted the group exhibition The Glamour Summit at SOMArts in 2000.

“Glamorgeddon is a riotous celebration of how we choose to be fabulous, even as we critique the excesses of our own endangered species,” said Poethig, whose work is prominently featured. “Dress to transgress,” she urges.

Two high-energy “spectacles” activate the visual artwork in Glamorgeddon with performance and provide interactive experiences for the audience both in the gallery and inside a roving hot pink limousine.

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Glamorgeddon’s Opening Night Spectacle will take place on Thursday, January 8, 6pm to 9pm, free admission. This visual art opening features live music and over-the-top performances, as well as a POP! shop with limited-edition, artist-created swag. For performance descriptions and performer biographies, click here.

The Glamorgeddon Final Spectacle on Friday, January 30, 5pm to 9pm, features free admission to performances in the gallery from 7pm to 8:30pm that include a new work by sound artist Laetitia Sonami, WIGband, a legendary, tasteless, feminist performance art cabaret duo created by Poethig and Barbara Golden in 1985, and Queen Crescent, a heavy psychedelic flute rock band. For a detailed schedule of the evening, please click here.

On the same evening, from 5pm to 9pm, audiences can circle the city of San Francisco in a garish pink limousine while enjoying one or more of an array of ticketed 30-minute performative Limo Lectures facilitated by scholars, performers and activists. The immersive experience on wheels departs from SOMArts, costs $20 per lecture and includes complimentary beverages. Advance tickets are recommended. For detailed descriptions of the lectures and ticket information, please click here.

Visual and sound elements set the stage in the gallery for the Glamorgeddon–– Poethig has bedazzled construction hardhats, tools, a traffic cone and a stack of tires with rhinestones. Chris Brown and Chris Kubick provide a sound environment for the exhibition that consists of disco music and cheers.

Sonami and Eliza Barrios offer interactive installations that utilize technology. The audience can don “Beauty Session-I”, a large helmet made of wires and flowers housing a sound installation by Sonami. A site-specific, interactive projection by Barrios appears in “the hole,” a 100-year-old former sand casting pit in the floor of the gallery. A reference to the myth of Narcissus, the viewer’s movement triggers visuals that defy self-obsessed expectations as they peer into “the hole.”

Amalia Mesa-Bains and Joyce Hsu offer figurative work in the form of dolls. Mesa-Bains’ “El Fin del Siglo, Latina World’s Fair (2000)” invoked scientific racism and representations of women in nineteenth-century world’s fairs. Mesa-Bains builds on the World’s Fair tradition of exhibiting miniature fashions, but in her versions, the looks are donned by iconic Latinas including Frida Kahlo, Celia Cruz, Margarita Cansino (Rita Hayworth), Patssi Valdez and others. A backdrop includes a history of Latina glamour girls.

Dolls by Joyce Hsu playfully re-invent icons familiar in contemporary culture, such as “Hello Kitty” and “Gundam.” These sculptures, inspired by “supercute” Japanese characters and vinyl toy figures, are designed to circumvent gender norms and were crafted through cutting-edge 3D printing and mass production techniques.

Stella Lai exhibits two paintings that portray female goddesses in Chinese culture, considering the impact and relevancy that these historic heroines have had on modern society.

Mildred Howard reimagines historic packaging of Fairbank’s Gold Dust Washing Powder, an early 20th-century cleaning product, in the 30” x 40” digital print, “The Other Side of the Coin (2014).” In place of the gold coins that decorated the original Gold Dust box, Howard has inserted Booker T. Washington memorial half dollars and Sacagawea golden dollar coins. Likewise, in place of the racist caricatures of Dusty and Goldie– the “Gold Dust Twins” that graced packages and ads for Gold Dust products as early as 1892– the artist herself appears in a grisaille (depicted in tones of gray) self-portrait, her back turned as if in defiance, proudly displaying her dreadlocks.

Angelica Muro’s “Policía de Narcóticos,” inspired by female representations in Mexican cinema, references the female action heroine as an attractive, self-empowered femme fatale. These images evoke certain cinematic expressions and allegories that imply a culture of fear while paradoxically indulging romantic notions of gender empowerment, violence, and equalization, and invite the audience to consider how these images play into postmodern notions of gender identity and feminist theory.

Exhibiting Visual and Media Artists:
Chris Brown
Eliza Barrios
Mildred Howard
Joyce Hsu
Chris Kubick
Stella Lai
M.O.B/ Mail Order Brides: Jenifer Wofford, Eliza Barrios, Reanne Estrada
Kara Maria
Hector Dionicio Mendoza
Amalia Mesa-Bains
Gabby Miller
Angelica Muro
Johanna Poethig
Laetitia Sonami
Gustavo Vazquez
Bernard Williams
Imin Yeh

Free performances on Thursday, January 8th by:
MC: Kyle Herbert
Fuzzybunny: Chris Brown, Tim Perkis, Scot Gresham-Lancaster
Guillermo Galindo
Theresa Wong
Woffles and Herb: Jenifer Wofford and Kyle Herbert

Free performances on Friday, January 30th by:
MC: Kyle Herbert
Laetitia Sonami
WIGband: Barbara Golden and Johanna Poethig
Queen Crescent

Ticketed Limo Lectures on Friday, January 30th by:
L.M. Bogad
Jaime Cortez and Dr. Marcia Ochoa
Manananggoogle Executive Team
Dr. Amalia Mesa-Bains and Professor Angelica Muro
Dr. Kathryn Poethig, Academic Alchemist

SOMArts’ exhibition programs are generously supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission, The San Francisco Foundation and individual donors, and are sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts. Glamorgeddon received support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation.

Images courtesy of Johanna Poethig