Way back when I visited Marfa, Texas I fell in love with Ilya Kabakov’s installation School No. 6. For me it was the notion that a collage could jump off the paper and be done on a large scale and fill a space. But Marfa has never really been about minimalism – it’s about what I prefer to call maximalism. The visit to Marfa helped inform my own installation in 2012, Imaging Val Travel. This week, I was reminded that I want to do more installation creating collages in big, large spaces. The current show at San Francisco’s Pier 24, titled Secondhand, is brilliant.
As the name Secondhand implies, it’s all about re-use and repurposing – and at Pier 24, that means photography. For this exhibit, some of the galleries feel less as if they are curated and more as if they are large collages in themselves. It begins as visitors are greeted by a wall of vintage employee badges hung in a grid at the entrance. The concept of curation as collage is also evident in three rooms filled with photos of various ages, assembled and hung as an Archive of Modern Conflict. For me, the show’s star is Erik Kessels – his installation in almost every picture includes large reproduced, plexi photo cubes – the ones that were on every coffee table in the 1970’s. His installation Album Beauty was my favorite. Cases displaying various family photo albums in the center of the room with the albums and photos reproduced on a large scale throughout the room, including some huge prints incorporated into the room’s wallpaper. It’s a mix of various stranger’s photo albums and personal photos. I felt the same sense of invasive detachment that I feel when I use old, found photos in my own work. I just kept standing in the middle room and thinking to myself – I want to do this!
The show runs until May 31, 2015 – but as the museum is getting better known, I recommend making your reservations well in advance as things book-up ever quicker.