san-francisco

Adriane Colburn

Southern Exposure

In her recent exhibition “Before the Rush,” Adriane Colburn reconstructed hidden histories through a kind of meditative cartography, focusing our attention on particular parts of the map. Colburn’s title refers to the nineteenth-century Gold Rush that transformed San Francisco from backwater to big city practically overnight. San Francisco Bay 1800/San Francisco Bay 2000, 2005, is a large cut-paper silhouette pinned directly to the wall that shows every detail of the bay’s complicated shape, including tributaries and creeks, as they existed at the two dates. The land that the water surrounds is represented only by its absence. What makes this piece so arresting is that the fraternal-twin shapes of the bay then and now are presented as the two halves of an imperfect Rorschach blot, past and present facing each other. The two lobed forms look at once surprisingly similar and depressingly

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