San Francisco

“Present Tense”

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

If “Present Tense: Nine Artists in the Nineties” is any indication, the present is not so much tense as profoundly melancholy. Apparently awaiting the moment when the dilatory millennium will press our collective restart button, the artists in this zeitgeisty exhibition seem to have plenty of time on their hands. The consolation is that they use it well.

A labor-intensive preoccupation with fabrication was the central feature of the primarily sculptural and installation-oriented art on view. The pièce de résistance in this make-work vein was Jim Hodges’ No Betweens, 1996, a 30-foot diaphanous curtain of artificial silk flowers that hung, floor to ceiling, in the middle of a large gallery. Making the curtain required disassembling, ironing, pinning, and sewing together thousands of fake flowers, and Hodges, a New York artist, enlisted the help of family and friends over the course of a

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