Enjoying the other side of the Bay

17 Feb

I don’t write about San Francisco much here, partly because I don’t think about it as much as I think about Oakland and partly because I think there’s already plenty of chatter about SF. But the truth is that one of the reasons I love Oakland so much is because I can easily hop across the Bay to enjoy some of San Francisco’s offerings, and then hop back to the city I love.

My parents were in town last weekend from LA, so we decided to drive to the MOMA (I tried to talk them into taking BART, but LA habits are hard to break). Outside of Burning Man, it’s kind of rare that I rave about an art exhibit, but I really can’t express how much I loved the Olafur Elliason exhibition, Take Your Time. And maybe part of the reason I loved it so much was because it embodies what I love about much Burning Man art. The pieces were interactive and some were huge enough to walk into. The designs were simple, but the results and thoughts they provoked were often complex. Elliason also played with light, color, shapes, and sounds in ways that were often surprising.

The exhibition starts in the entry way to the museum, as a fan is suspended from the ceiling, propelled in circular motions by the air caught as the fan’s blades whir. Exiting the elevator on the 5th floor, Elliason caught me off guard again, as I was basked in a bright yellow light that makes everyone look as if they’re in a black and white movie.

One of my favorite pieces was 360 Degree Room for All Colours. Entering the circular room, I first thought I was entering a simple, pale yellow lit circle, but as I stared at the wall, the color slowly changed – blue, pink, purple, green, yellow, white… It sounds simple enough, but the colors sucked me in, to the point where I almost forgot about external realities. This art piece truly brought me to an altered state of consciousness.

Another favorite was Space Reversal, which consisted of two portals. In one, you lean into a window to see yourself and your companions reproduced into infinity. It appeared as if I was looking out of a skyscraper window and seeing myself looking out of infinite copies of myself below. The next portal is similar, but you can walk into it and see yourself reproduced from any angle. Very simple, but a bit startling none the less.

Leaving the MOMA, we got caught in Moscone Center traffic, and I remembered one of the reasons I hate bringing cars to San Francisco. Once on the bridge though, we sped back to Oakland, where we were treated to one of the most beautiful sights of the day: the sun setting over the shipping cranes and San Francisco’s skyline. This is often my favorite way to view San Francisco – looking back from Oakland.

The Elliason exhibit only lasts through February 24th so hop on BART or a transbay bus and go check it out. You won’t regret it.

2 Responses to “Enjoying the other side of the Bay”

  1. Dogtown Commoner February 18, 2008 at 12:25 am #

    I really liked that show too. I saw it almost by accident, because I had some time to kill after seeing the Joseph Cornell show there a couple months ago, so I wandered up to find out who the guy with the funny name was. I love it when art manages to make me see the space around me in a whole new way. (I ended up liking the Elliason show almost as much as the Cornell show, and Cornell is one of my favorites.)

  2. Kitty February 21, 2008 at 4:33 pm #

    The show was phenomenal. Thanks for writing it up!

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