The San Francisco Art Institute Presents WRONG'S WHAT I DO BEST, Now thru 7/26

The San Francisco Art Institute Presents WRONG'S WHAT I DO BEST, Now thru 7/26

The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), one of the most prestigious and oldest art schools in the nation, presents Wrong's What I Do Best, an exhibition transcending social, political and personal fault lines intent on provoking dialogue through the artists' fearless exploration of the deep and sometimes dark edges of our world. Working against both correctness and failure, Wrong's What I Do Bestrevels in repeated derailments to present the work of artists who commit themselves to unadulterated freedom of expression. Some of the artists unearth scorched histories or upset "natural" order, while others fling themselves headlong into the coming apocalypse. Characterized by illicit unrestraint and lack of critical judgment, the work occludes the artists' true selves.

Curated by Hesse McGraw and Aaron Spangler, Wrong's What I Do Best takes its title from what was originally a George Jones anthem, and later a catchall for a generation of Hard Country performers. Jones and his outlaw brothers-Johnny Paycheck, David Allan Coe, Hank Williams-were known equally for their crafted stage personas and unhinged private lives. These sincerely deluded, tragicomic figures inhabited characters of their own making, to personal peril and kindling for public legend.

"As our culture becomes increasingly polarized, and ideological extremes are presented as normal, Aaron and I looked for artists who assume real risks - even though they maintain the 'fourth wall' they also remind us one shouldn't let the truth get in the way of a good story," says Hesse McGraw, the exhibition's co-curator and SFAI's Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs.

The fifteen artists and collectives featured range from internationally celebrated figures to emerging talents. They include: Tanyth Berkeley, Ashley Bickerton, CLUB PAINT, Liz Cohen, Wim Delvoye, Samara Golden, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Nikki S. Lee, Brad Kahlhamer, Jonathan Meese, Laurel Nakadate, Dana Schutz, Aaron Storck, Marianne Vitale and Kara Walker.

The following quotes represent the variety of approaches and perspectives encompassed by the exhibition:

Tanyth Berkeley

"I imagined myself at times to be in the metaphorical position of an urban botanist searching for rare, perhaps even anachronistic, kinds of beauty. I wanted to relate my project to the natural world [which is] deliberately opposed to artifice. For example, the albino ladies I photographed are natural blondes-the real deal."

- Nicole Pasulka interviews Tanyth Berkeley for The Morning News, June 2006

Ashley Bickerton

"I'm interested in the liberating aspect of being totally untethered, let loose in the worst possible environments. My favorite artists are always women that do things that are so wrong... I like things to be seven kinds of wrong. If they are seven kinds of wrong, sometimes the wrongs neutralize themselves, and the whole thing becomes..."

- Emily Nathan interviews Ashley Bickerton for ArtNet

Liz Cohen

"I wanted to take something where I could go from being on the outside-really being an outsider, to really being an insider, even if I was a freak insider. Different ways to become a part of that car culture are to build cars, to own cars, or to model for cars. So my motivation for doing the modeling was more to become a member-I never did it to make fun of that aspect of car culture. I wasn't judging it, I was using it."
- Sarah Margolis-Pineo interviews Liz Cohen for the Bad At Sports Blog, November 2011

Wim Delvoye

"Art is not by definition morally good. I've never believed in justifying one's good heart or intelligence through art. ...It's a more efficient way to criticize the world. At first glance, people will think that I'm not politically correct... But I'm the one who, like Jesus, kisses Judas. I embrace the negative. Observers notice my contradictions at times: I'm a vegetarian, yet I have a pig farm."
- Nicolas Bourriaud interviews Wim Delvoye for Bing, May-Sep 2007

Samara Golden

"I guess that I hate the word cathartic, it is true that everything I do is very personal; however, I view my projects more as materialization problems... or even as math problems. They are like very long story problems that can only be solved by materializing the elements, and having them engage each other in very specific ways that then create a locked-in "answer." I feel that in order to make something happen in this way, one has to put their full self, and psyche, into it. The installations are full of my thoughts, interests, obsessions, and fears, but those elements are tools that I use to get to the larger whole. But to answer your question more literally, in some ways I see my installations as exorcisms."
- Vera Neykov interviews Samara Golden for Interview Magazine

Trenton Doyle Hancock

"In some ways my work is very connected to comedy and tragicomedy-taking the figure of the hero and exposing not necessarily its absurdity, but its vulnerability. My superhero is brave but not invulnerable. He uses his courage to move through all the layers of viscera that constitute his humanity. Being brave is just the armor he wears; he feels an obligation, in order to move through psychological and socio-political spaces and resolve issues. This time I'm using the artist as superhero as evidence that I don't know everything, that there is no script. I want to show that I'm not trying to cover up anything any longer."

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