Comparing and contrasting the work of a diverse group of Oakland and San Francisco-based artists, Conspiracy explores the aesthetic interpretations of conspiracy and intrigue as it manifests in historical, scientific, social, and technological realms.
The phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ dates from the early twentieth century, cited in a 1909 article in The American Historical Review and is defined as the ideological belief that covert political and highly influential forces are responsible for unexplained and often nefarious historical phenomena.
Conspiracy is an exhibition that specifically reflects on ways in which slogans, critical visual analysis, social media, and informational graphics enable the public to imagine connections between today’s multiple mediums of communication, and address ways in which art engages conspiratorial thinking.
Conspiracy offers a mélange of contemporary art approaches to “world order” narratives, ranging from the deployment of new media to research-based practices. From a city’s fictitious narrative to a belief in surreptitious queer agendas, the selected artists tackle speculative hypotheses through works that invite the public to contribute their interpretations of fraudulent artifice and misinformation.
Heather Murphy presents a video work that ties together videos gleaned from YouTube, Twitter feeds, Google searches, Facebook updates, and Instagram posts in an abstract audiovisual sequence that raise questions on how “news” is layered, its conveyance fluctuating between the absurd and the sublime. Hasmik Aga-Sarkisian presents a neon light work, which synthesizes the deleterious effects of real world conspiracies and conspiracy theories. Aaron David Kissman exhibits photography and video that addresses queer politics and male vulnerability in a patriarchal world. Ben Quinn, a soundscape accompanied by a graphic design piece reflecting upon false impressions of global politics, secrecy, and the harmful effects of mass media deception. Representative of a city and its hidden secrets, Sebastián Álvarez presents a performance and installation, combined to create a monumental conceptual map at 2291 3rd St.
Heather Murphy was born in Fremont, CA in 1990, and today is a San Francisco-based new media artist. She holds a BA in Studio Art from Azusa Pacific University, and an MFA in Studio Art from California College of the Arts. She had her first solo exhibition at Heritage Art Gallery in 2012, and her work has been shown in group exhibitions at The Wrong: New Digital Art Biennale, Southern Exposure, and Worth Ryder Gallery (UC Berkeley), among others.
Aaron Kissman born in Scottsdale, AZ in 1988, is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design (BFA) and The San Francisco Art Institute (MFA). Aaron’s studio practice centers around queer intimacy, negotiation, and disclosures in regards to sexuality and HIV/AIDS. Aaron’s professional interests lie in curation, non-profits administration, and higher education.
Ben Quinn was born in Dayton, OH in 1991. He attended Columbus College of Art & Design for his BFA and is currently earning his MFA at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Sebastian Alvarez, born January 14, 1978 in Lima, Perú, is a transdisciplinary artist, independent researcher, and Visiting Faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute. Working across diverse media, his practice highlights the interrelation of disparate infrastructures and the uncanniness of human-made systems. Alvarez’s work manifests in the form of still and moving allegorical images, video, infographics, performative lectures, sonic compositions, and walks. He received a MFA (2011) in Performance Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has performed, curated, and presented work internationally at such venues and institutions as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Whitney Biennial (NYC), Postgarage (Graz, Austria), Townhouse Gallery (Cairo, Egypt), and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Art Bourges (Bourges, France).
Hasmik Aga-Sarkisian is an Armenian-American artist who was born in Dallas, Texas in 1989. She received her BFA at Otis College of Art in Design in Los Angeles and later went on to receive her MFA at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She currently resides in the Bay Area where she has continued her art practice. Hasmik’s work draws inspiration from dehumanizing occurrences that are taking place in the Middle East and the minorities who are suffering at the hands of their aggressors. This has caused her to be continually fascinated with national imaginaries, border zones, archives, loss, displacement, erasure, and generational suffering due to denied histories.
Here are some images of the exhibition, click to enlarge:
https://videopress.com/embed/8ouEpsA1?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0Heather Murphy, Escape Dress Neutrality, 2015, Video
All photos by Cranium Corporation, 2016