Patterns of Reacting: Reflections on “100 Performances for the Hole – Take Two”

The reaction itself is art.

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As I stood in the middle of the gallery floor watching the real-time projection of a performance in the ‘hole’, I heard someone say, “Only in San Francisco”.   I thought to myself, “Really”?  There must be other places with similar takes on conceptual and performative art in all parts of the world but I did find the observation rather interesting in that San Francisco does seems to nurture all types of conceptual art as evidenced by the 100 Performances.

The way in which people react to art, especially, conceptual art is a mixed bag.  It’s not the run-of-the-mill eye candy art you see when you go to a museum or a gallery.  It’s also created with various media people may be unfamiliar with or never really known.  Seriously, I thought to myself, as I stood there watching and listening, “You can use a speaker to produce sound and that’s art?”.  The quick after thought of, “Yes, folks.  That’s art”.  The sheer beauty of experimental art is that it doesn’t care if it’s disliked, liked, or loved.  It’s a way of combining all the senses to challenge the viewer.  You are not only seeing but experiencing as well.  There is a strong sense of engagement and that’s one of the rare gifts this exhibition gave its viewers.

The fundamental commonality seems to be the reaction of the viewer.  The reaction itself is art.  An artist is an artist if there’s someone around to view the art.  Right?  I guess that’s a slippery slope because art is art is art.  Yet, conceptual art seems to rely on a viewer and, in some cases, a participant.  In any case, I found myself hankering for some experimental art and glad I got my fill at 100 Performances.  Sure hope this becomes an annual gig.  We shall see.

Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She serves as one of the editors-in-chief for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship. She also serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center.

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