Last week, my Academy of Art University Composition for Abstract Art class visited the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA). Currently on view is the brilliantly curated The Body Electric exhibition. Being part a of a school group, our admission fee was waived. The institution continues to be a leader in contemporary arts with equal access for all!
From the website: “YBCA presents the West Coast debut of The Body Electric, an expansive array of more than 70 works revealing the ways that technology changes our collective understanding of the body, everyday life, and sense of self. Looking across the past 50 years, The Body Electric presents works by an intergenerational and international group of artists who have seized upon the screen as a place to rethink the body and identity. Featuring video, sculpture, photographs, virtual reality, and more, from over 45 artists and collectives, the exhibition places a particular emphasis on gender, sexuality, race, and class…”
Prior to the visit, I highlighted three The Body Electric artists to my students: Laurie Anderson, Sondra R. Perry, and Lynn Hershman Leeson. Anderson in a Smithsonian interview: “If I had a message, I would write it down and e-mail it to everybody. I would save a lot of paint that way. My work is more about trying to create images through words and pictures. I want to evoke a reaction more than explain anything clearly. I don’t like things to be confused, but I like them to be multifaceted.”
Sondra R. Perry is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice explores identity through historical narratives. The artwork actively engages the visitor physically and mentally. An avatar on three screens discusses capitalism and success. Truth is a concept worth working for!
For for over fifty years, the San Francisco Bay Area artist Lynn Hershman Leeson has been creating artworks. Leeson is an innovator and pioneer exploring the surveillance state and artificial intelligence. Exposing the line between truth and alternative realities has been her specialty.
As an educator, I’m thankful for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts! The Body Electric exhibition engaged my students. The venue offered the perfect intellectual space and experience. In an “alternative facts” world, critical thinking is desperately needed: one artwork at a time.
Body Electric. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. September 6 –January 26, 2020.