Shotgun Reviews

Bon/anza 3: Dress for This at n/a gallery

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Suzanne L’Heureux reviews Bon/anza 3: Dress for This, at n/a gallery in Oakland, California.

Bon/anza 3: Dress for This, Installation View, n/a Gallery windows, 2013. Image courtesy of the Artists.

Bon/anza 3: Dress for This, Installation View, n/a Gallery windows, 2013. Image courtesy of the Artists.

Bon/anza 3: Dress for This, at n/a gallery, is a visually satisfying and conceptually engaging collaborative exhibition, featuring sculpture, film, and painting by the collective bonanza (Conrad Guevara, Lindsay Tully, and Lana Williams).[1]

Loosely inspired by Irit Rogoff’s talk How to Dress for an Exhibition, the show underscores how artistic presentation, like dressing, responds to and is contingent on context, and remains open to a multiplicity of interpretations.

The artists acknowledge and play off n/a’s varied functionality: The space is simultaneously a gallery, a home, and a venue for talks, readings, and film screenings. Fittingly, many pieces span materials and are collaborative. Several are wholly dependent on their installation within and around the gallery, including its plate-glass windows.

One collaborative work, Speedo (all pieces are from 2013), consists of 16mm film that has been “smoke bombed” by Tully (the practice was influenced by Williams), and is projected through a hanging, sculptural shape—constructed by Williams—onto one of the gallery’s front windows. A shadow cast by the sculptural “frame” seamlessly merges with the projected image on the window’s surface, collapsing boundaries between mediums, artists, and the physical space. Light coming in through the window during the day obscures the projected image, which can be viewed clearly at night, allowing for an alluring range of subjective interpretations.

Williams’s Birthday Suit, which combines sculpture and painting, features a large, lively gestural mural painted directly on the gallery’s back wall. A simple, pale green, bent-metal form balances almost contemplatively in front of the mural. This sculpture element in Williams’s work clearly relates to the elegant, bent wood pieces constructed by Guevara, such as Earring, which arcs through the space like a giant archery bow, reciprocally echoing the curving linear marks in Williams’s mural.

In its playful exploration of dressing as a means for self-presentation—works hung by an earring hook or a drawstring cord; a painting inspired by leopard print; titles such as Speedo, Earring, and Birthday SuitDress for This also complements n/a’s mission as a space dedicated to exploring queer experience. This connection was evident in a film screening curated by the artists, which included thematically queer works by Lindsay Laven, Mariah Garnett, and others.

Such concurrent activity enriches bonanza’s collaborative approach, as well as the underlying themes of the exhibition. But what makes Dress for This a success is the artists’ pleasing presentation of subtly expressive forms and shifting formal relationships—providing, beyond its theoretical framework, a purely satisfying visual experience.

Suzanne L’Heureux lives in Oakland, CA, where she runs an alternative art space, Interface Gallery.

[1] Full disclosure: Lana Williams is a staff member of our sister publication Art Practical.