The SECA Award show that occurs every other year at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the main support mechanism the museum has for encouraging and engaging with Bay Area artists. This year, the award was given to Kamau Amu Patton, Ruth Laskey, Colter Jacobsen, and Mauricio Ancalmo. These artists work in a wide range of materials and their subject matter is also diverse.
While I do not dislike any of the work, though the sound installation by Patton was beginning to give me a migraine by the time I left the gallery, I was not drawn to be curious about it either. Put another way, the work sat on the wall, floor, or in the vitrine inanimate, even though the piece by Ancalmo swung around in circles from the ceiling. It did not engage, lure in the viewer to see it, and make one want to linger and explore.
A theme that could be woven to link this group of artists together is one of technical investigations. The technical investigation is a dominant theme in the culture of the west at the moment, be it in particle physics, DNA research, computer coding, data aggregation from internet use, and art in this case. It embodies the experimentation with and exploration into minute areas of world around us.
The difficulty with technical investigations in any field is that the results are not all that interesting most of the time to the average person, and a good portion of the time to someone in the field itself. The service they provide is the heavy lifting they do to form the foundation for the future. The challenge investigators have to overcome is taking the results and using the power they give to create new ways of seeing the world and/or change how we interact with it.
In the permissive world of art today, the investigations of these four artists are all valid. However, I am looking forward to the artist(s) who will take the results of the many technical investigations currently being done and will be able to put them together to create a new way, or ways, of thinking about the world. These four artists have provided the worthy results of their investigations for us and the greater art world to consider. The question is: Where they will take us?
2010 SECA ART AWARD is on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art until April 3, 2012. The Museum is located at 151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Hours: Mon. – Tues. 11 – 5:45, Closed Wed., Thurs. 11 – 8:45, Fri. – Sun. 11- 5:45. (415) 357-4000.