With acerbic wit, mischievous originality, and a strong right jab, Bay Area artist Tony Labat has landed bruising punches to the body of cultural identity. Though fully schooled in the United States, this Cuban-born provocateur found himself against the ropes as a contender in the multi-culti ring of the eighties. Rough and tumble, Labat replied with a string of brilliant narrative collages, staggering in the knock-down delirium of loss, displacement, and alienation that we recognize as symptoms of cultural concussion. Drawing on folk figures such as Babalu, performative and theatrical gesture, and startling metaphors often gleaned from mass media, Labat's elliptical tales of the unintentional émigré are at once disquieting and wildly brash. Throughout the eighties, he reigned as the bad boy of cultural critique, feinting and jabbing and taking on all contenders. Tropical Punch will show that Tony Labat is in a weight class all his own.
New Langton Arts celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with Trust Me, the first survey of the performance, video, and installation work of Tony Labat. Tropical Punch is shown in conjunction with this important retrospective, running September 21 through October 22. (Information: 415-626-5416.)