The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) has welcomed artist Carlos Amorales to contribute to its continuing Art Wall series. The series asks international artists to create a temporary design for the “Art Wall,” a wall that can be seen immediately upon entering the museum.
Amorales’ Ghost Demonstration, designed specifically for the Art Wall, is a dramatic canvas of ghosts giving voice and form to historical slogans, a sort-of paradox that only reinforces the piece's power to confront and stop you in your tracks. Some slogans are pulled from real-life posters from Berkeley protests, while others are from British anarcho-punk bands of the 80s. “Make racists afraid again” and “feminism is not passe” are two that really stick out in a sea of slogans that want to shout in your ear and put their arm around you in solidarity at the same time.
This is not a piece for quiet contemplation. It asks you to think incisively about your own engagement within the history of politics of your community, of politics abroad and politics broadly. It might affirm things for you, it might galvanize you, it might make you angry or defensive. These are all important things and it should not prevent you from seeing the work. Hopefully you will strike up a conversation with a friend or stranger about how the piece makes you feel, what it makes you think. If even a few museum-goers do this, this piece will be a success.
Ghost Demonstration also raises interesting questions about how art can utilize archival information, a question that is becoming more and more interesting in the era of excessive cloud storage and churning plastic seas of overproduced material. How can we use the history of things, of information, to produce something meaningful? The piece gives a rousing example of how to use historical data in an artful and impactful way.
The art wall will be up for viewing until October 13, 2019 at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.