San Francisco

Beeldend Theater Group

Floating Museum

The Floating Museum, an alternative network that has sponsored artists’ events both in this country and Europe, occupied two galleries at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this summer. Billed as “The Global Space Invasion Part II,” the SFMMA was host to six gallery exhibitions and several weeks of continuous performance art. Artists from Holland, France and Australia participated, as well as legions of local artists. Nevertheless, with the exception of a few performance works and sporadic gallery selections. the “Invasion” evidenced an unfocused, free-for-all atmosphere.

The most notable exception to the generally low quality was Faces of Memory, a mixed media performance created especially for the Floating Museum by the Beeldend Theatre of Amsterdam. Staged in an open gallery space with a rear projection unit, Faces of Memory featured two characters; an electronic guitarist in white suit at the rear of the gallery, and a striking young actress in simple white dress. The performance was comprised of the woman voicing phrases in Dutch while she paced to different tempi around the room. With a stalking motion. sound accompaniment (both taped and live), and dramatic lighting effects she defined the space, establishing a desperate, urban atmosphere. The words described a walk, with questioning, anger and doubt. Midway in the performance she moved behind a rear projection screen, entering a two-dimensional environment where she rested in a hammock.

Unlike so much American performance art, the Beeldend group used traditional staging devices. The performance was marked by both a rather intricate lighting scheme and a sense of tension formed through physical movement and dramatic pacing. Strong shifts of mood were felt within the environment, which the actress continually redefined with her movements. Devoid of plot, or even understandable dialogue, the Beeldend group explored abstract theatrical forms (light, sound, motion), fabricating a surreal atmosphere. By articulating the gallery through formal devices, Faces of Memory suggested the same kind of internal coding which governs two-dimensional abstract art. However, there was also the suggestion or influence of Robbe Grillet in the calculated changing of perspective and relationship between character and space. The Beeldend Theatre group not only created a tension-charged environment, but displayed a substantial ability to fashion a provocative experience in and of an alien space.

Hal Fischer