FIRST SOLO MUSEUM EXHIBITION BY OAKLAND-BASED ARTIST D-L ALVAREZ EXPLORES HORROR AND THE NATIONAL PSYCHE.
Berkeley, CA, July 16, 2012 - The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents D-L Alvarez / MATRIX 243. D-L Alvarez's first solo museum exhibition is a haunting meditation on the violent end of innocence. Drawing on iconic imagery from Hollywood horror films, Alvarez, an Oakland-based artist, focuses on the uncanny moments when social and domestic deviance collide.
For many, the utopian experiment of the 1960s ended with the Manson Family murders. The decade of countercultural idealism had found its nemesis, and Americans grew wary of social outliers. Horror films featuring grotesque Manson-like transgressions supplanted the more nuanced Hitchcockesque thrillers of the sixties. Likewise, television studios began to abandon tried-and-true sitcoms that offered harmonious caricatures of the American family in favor of more progressive depictions of a less stable family unit.
In Alvarez's series The Closet (2006–07), we see an abstracted image of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in John Carpenter's Halloween, attempting to fight off a masked psychopath. Expressions of terror like this one, and other scenes like it, begin to dissolve in Alvarez's heavily abstracted graphite compositions. Alvarez's use of pixilation suggests some kind of electronic interference or degraded technology. His technique masks the features of both victim and killer but, more importantly, extends to the surface of the screen itself. The screen, a fixture in the contemporary home, becomes the new closet of terror.
The Closet is paired with Something to Cry About (I and II) (2007), patchwork bodysuits made of children's clothing arranged over wooden armatures. They resemble children's footed pajamas, but are draped ominously to evoke the grisly costumes that psychopath Ed Gein fashioned out of corpses' skins. Gein was the model for cinematic murderers such as Norman Bates in Psycho and Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and both characters mimic the actual serial killer's chilling methods and psychology.
Together, Alvarez's fabric works and drawings recall the transgressive experience of watching horror movies as a child and the social and domestic unease in the wake of the Manson Family murders. In both works, Alvarez points to the aesthetic guises that conceal us from greater horrors.
About the Artist
D-L Alvarez lives and works in Oakland. He has had participated in exhibitions at the Drawing Center, New York; DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Participant Inc., New York; Schwules Museum, Berlin; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. He has also created performative installations for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Highways, Los Angeles; and The Lab, San Francisco.
MATRIX 243 is organized by Assistant Curator Dena Beard. The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley's primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA's mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum's collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
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