If Bay Area Now 5 were a bottle of wine, it might be touted as: "Subtle, with flavors that blossom slowly in the mind." Despite a few raucous installations, the show as a whole seemed serious, reserved, and worth getting to know. Two hours at the preview party Friday night were not enough to see everything -- this version of the triennial survey is billed as "the most ambitious to date" and with four guest-curated shows-within-the-show in addition to the survey curated by Kate Eilertsen and Berin Golonu, a thorough view will take several visits.
Several works stood out immediately. Joshua Churchill's empty room, with fitful light and sound percolating into the space through wide cracks in the floorboards, seems on the verge of coming apart — much too much like our democracy and economy. Maria Antelman forces viewers into a vulnerable position, on their backs, to see her video Everland, a meditation on species and cultural mortality. Primitivo and Ginger Wolfe-Suarez teamed with Moira Roth on a bomb-shelter-like housing for an atlas of Roth's poems, infused with a longing for peace amid constant news of war. (And installed, alas, next to a work with intrusive but thankfully intermittent music.)
The full import of BAN 5 will take months to develop, as the time-based and off-site components come into play. Get started thinking about it at tonight's opening party, 8:00 pm at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.