By Liza Veale, Oakland Local
Owners of a shuttered medical building at 29th Street and Telegraph Avenue, just north of downtown Oakland, are waiting for construction permits to restore the spot to its original 1920s function as residential housing. In this fleeting moment of transition, 12 artists have taken up a brief residency to create site-specific art installations and invite the public inside. Curators Ernest Jolly and Chris Evans call their pop-up ArtComplex, and it opens today (Saturday, Jan. 18.).
Unlike most other forms of visual art and gallery presentations, these temporary, site-specific installations don’t begin and end with the borders of a frame, Jolly says. “They interact with the space; the space is part of the piece.” When they are disassembled and reinstalled somewhere else, they become something new.
In this case, the twelve artists devised site-specific pieces inspired by the building. Some of them took their cues from its medical function, others from the nature of apartment cohabitation, others from the flux and transformation of the space in time and still others from the particular way the light came in the window. All of the work is animated by an Oakland sensibility.
“I selected a few of the artists and then those artists selected the rest,” Jolly says. “So it’s a really varied sample of local work.”
The exhibition will be open to the public on weekends through the end of March. Select dates will feature live music and dance performances that respond to the artists’ installations. Collaborators include Bandelion performers, dancer-choreographer Byb Chanel Bibene, avant jazz group the Broun Fellinis, international solo artist Folawole, Bay Area dancer Nadia Oka, dancer-choreographer Sheena Johnson, and more. ArtComplex is trying to create an immersive art experience; this is not your grandmother’s art museum.