Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bayeté Ross Smith at Bluespace (SF)

Note: This exhibition is scheduled to close on 4/13/07.

Bluespace, a small privately owned storefront that operates as a community project space, currently is presenting work by young San Francisco artist Bayeté Ross Smith. This project, called “Passing,” is one of a series in which the artist explores perceptions of identity by shifting the visual signifiers of racial type, ethnicity, class, and nationality.

The method used here is simulated passports—digitally manipulated versions of actual passports. Identity photos of a fair-skinned young woman and a dark-skinned young man are incorporated into passports from several countries. Invented names and suitable personal data are also incorporated. The results are intriguing, not only for the unique passport design used by each country, but for the game the artist has chosen to play. The simulations are meticulous and deserve to be seen in person. An example of one of the passports is shown above (image from the artist’s website).

Other work by this artist may be explored on his website. A larger exhibit of his work will open at San Francisco City Hall in mid-April, under the auspices of the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.

For the exhibit at Bluespace, the hours are noon to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The gallery may be open on other days as well. Even on the scheduled days, it is best to call before making a visit.

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