While I cannot in good conscience recommend a number of events I would ordinarily select for The Do List due to coronavirus concerns (and while most organizations announce the cancelation of those events in quick succession), exhibitions remain a fairly low-risk proposition for most Bay Area residents.
For starters, you’re not supposed to touch the artwork anyway, so there’s far less surfaces to come in contact with at a museum. All major Bay Area institutions are taking extra precautions to protect patrons and museum employees alike, with increased custodial services, canceled interactive experiences and closed coat checks.
So if you’re feeling starved for visual stimuli beyond your immediate environs during this time of social distancing, a careful visit to the Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archives could be just the treatment. And if you’re looking for the most stimulating of visual stimuli, Berlin artist Ulrike Ottinger will not disappoint.
Ottinger may be best known as a filmmaker. Her four-decade-long career gets worthy attention in BAMPFA’s ongoing series East Meets West (March 8–June 28, though all screenings are now postponed due to the coronavirus until March 29), showing 10 of her narrative and documentary films, each a study in a specific time and place, some mediated by Ottinger herself.
But come March 25, the museum devotes some of its gallery space to Ottinger’s parallel practice as a photographer. Covering a timespan of decades, the MATRIX 276 show displays Ottinger’s portraits, landscapes and ever-present eye for detail, composition and color.