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Eindhovens Dagblad – From Performance to Giant Robots

San Francisco Festival in Eindhoven and Den Bosch

May 5, 1992 (Preview)

BY René van Peer

Opening San Francisco festival; performances in De Fabriek and Stadtswandelpark, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of May.

This month De Fabriek, 2B and De Effenaar in Eindhoven and V2 in Den Bosch present a festival from 7 artists from the Bay Area in San Francisco. In the manifestation these venues want to outline the scope of art developing there, and convey something of the energetic atmosphere nurturing it. The different character of the 4 venues has led them to compile a diverse program of exhibition, installations and performances ending with a performance of large robots.

The Bay Area lies at the harbor of San Francisco and comprises impressive, blank office blocks as well as countless small companies. The area houses people of varied cultural backgrounds: immigrants such as Mexican, and Jewish, to name just a few. In this district quite a lot of artists have settled. Many of them operate on the fringes of art. They have not yet established a reputation in large circles. They often use unconventional means. Some of them use advanced technology and have been connected with MIT – the foremost training institution in the USA. The MIT is renowned for involving artists in technical projects, because their creative approach may yield unexpected applications for developed hardware.

Many artists from the Bay Area have a social and political consciousness in common. Their cultural background often plays a major role in their work. A lack of resources has engendered wide spread and intensive collaboration. These characteristics have made the Bay Area a fertile artistic environment.

Judith Blankman and Shelley Cook will open the festival at De Fabriek next Saturday with installations and performances. In her work, Cook deals with topics such as abortion and sexuality, and the problems these may cause through an adverse attitude in society at large. This subject of woman’s rights transcends the borders of the USA with investments by the U.S. in the Third World it compulsively exports its strict moral standards. Cook’s original motivation to create the work she will show came out of frustration at the general state of affairs.

Blankman will do a performance in an installation of objects that one might find in a playground, like a seesaw and a swing, which work as sound machines as well. She wants her work to be a counterweight to commonplace views on artists, pointing out that their activities not always stem from creativity but from effort as well. The work also reflects upon the suppression of creativity in children by US education, the situation she witnesses regularly, being a teacher herself.

The activities in the festival are concentrated around the weekend. 3 in Eindhoven and 1 in Den Bosch. In Den Bosch the use of technology and interactive media get special emphasis. De Fabriek and V2 will show a video documentary of the Bay Area as part of the presentations. Several artist will tell about their work in lectures. A free program is available from cultural institutions in both cities.

René van Peer
Published in Eindhovens Dagblad of May 5, 1992
Translated by the author January 19, 1993