Berkeley, CA, February 10, 2006-The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents a new series of exhibitions for the MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art. Now-Time Venezuela: Media Along the Path of the Bolivarian Process is a year-long cycle of five exhibitions relating to the revolutionary transformation that has occurred in Venezuela since 1998. The series is organized by Chris Gilbert, who was appointed Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator in July 2005. The first installment, Part 1: Worker-Controlled Factories, will open on March 26 and run through May 28, 2006.
Since 1998, a broad-based popular movement under the leadership of Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian government has effected sweeping changes in all levels of Venezuelan life. Hallmarks of this transformation include participatory democracy, a constitution that calls for universal rights to education and health, and a series of land and educational reforms. Gilbert's new cycle of MATRIX exhibitions, Now-Time Venezuela: Media Along the Path of the Bolivarian Process, will trace this social, political, and cultural revolution while also proposing a theory of art and political activism. Rather than simply reflecting on the revolutionary process, the intent of these exhibitions is to be in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution's goals; as the series title suggests, the exhibitions are "along the path" of the process itself.
The first exhibition in the series, Part 1: Worker-Controlled Factories, features a newly commissioned multi-screen projection by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler on the subject of Venezuela's worker-controlled factories. Cooperative or co-management schemes organized and led by workers have become an important feature of Venezuela's new social and political landscape. Last fall, with cameraman Volkmar Geiblinger, Ressler and Azzellini recorded extensive interviews in five occupied factories in different Venezuelan cities. In the finished work, workers speak directly to the camera, describing their own experience of occupying and controlling a factory. This suggests the themes of "social protagonism" and participation by individuals that are central to the popular movement that has put the Chávez government in power.
Another component of the exhibition will be the circulation of the video (compiled into a single-channel DVD) in Venezuela and elsewhere, as a means of sharing knowledge and experience among a wider community. By aligning itself with the Bolivarian movement and its relationship with a larger global workers' movement, the Now-Time Venezuela exhibitions aim to raise awareness of Venezuela's emerging twenty-first century socialist movement. The series will also demonstrate an active role that art-and other cultural activities-may take in political struggles. As Gilbert says, the exhibitions will "not merely document but also contribute to their subjects". This is a departure from a tradition of political art and exhibitions, in that it acknowledges that works of art can be a part of the new world that revolutionary activity brings into being, rather than simply reflecting upon them.
Future exhibitions in the Now-Time Venezuela series will bring together works by media collectives and worker-produced videos that further promote the process of people taking power-in Venezuela and internationally.
Artists and Curator in Conversation
Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.
Together with MATRIX Curator Chris Gilbert, writer and political analyst Dario Azzellini and artist Oliver Ressler will discuss their new video project and the subject of worker-controlled factories in Venezuela, in the context of international workers' struggles. A reception will follow.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Packard Humanities Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, the Christensen Fund, the William H. Donner Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Gap Inc., other private foundations and corporations, and our individual donors and members. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George Gund III.
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University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
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