“Lutz Bacher: ODO”

Pub date December 2, 2008
WriterGlen Helfand
SectionArts & CultureSectionVisual Art

PREVIEW A continuous line of images adheres to the spacious walls of Ratio 3. They all seem to be produced on the same roll of sticky-backed paper. Thanks to visual literacy conditioning, we follow them as a narrative. There’s a picture of a weird blue guy standing in a forest, dolls, hunky male mannequins, a bearded guy being nailed to a cross, a smiling woman holding a thrift-store sculpture, a Photoshop view of a bottomless Laura Bush standing with her hubby, and other random sights. Videos of banal superstore interiors, fluffy dogs, landscapes, and more are projected in odd corners above our heads.

Lutz Bacher’s current exhibition is as oddly engaging as it is opaque. Don’t look to the press release for answers — it’s a handy recipe for butterscotch pudding. The show’s title refers to a character, played by René Auberjonois, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And yet reason pulses beneath the surface of this puzzling installation. You don’t really need to fully get it to tap into its strange intimacy. The images have a stream of consciousness quality similar to contents of an e-mailbox, where personal notes commingle with abject spam — a hefty percentage of the material on view made its way to the artist through that electronic media stream, and if the look of the pictures sometimes seems too hi-res to betray that source, all the better.

Bacher, whose work has involved a dry, incisive use of appropriated and self-made material (Vargas paintings, political joke books, a hauntingly glitchy self-made video of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium), offers another clue at the start of the exhibition: an old-school overhead projector enlarges a handwritten thank-you list marking all that follows with a sense of the artist’s community. "ODO" is engrossing for the images alone, some of which depict the artist and her previous works. But ultimately, it offers an intuitive view — one that may not make immediate sense, but that flares in your memory at the most unexpected moments.

LUTZ BACHER: ODO Through Dec. 13. Wed.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and by appointment. Ratio 3, 1447 Stevenson, SF. (415) 821-3371, www.ratio3.org