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Bruce Conner. Light out of Darkness

Bruce Conner (McPherson, Kansas, 1933–San Francisco, 2008) is legendary as much for his critical view of the art world as for his reputation as the father of the video clip. He is one of the outstanding artists of the second half of the twentieth century and has even been hailed as an artists artist. His work is political and subversive and is expressed through various media, which makes him a transversal artist who travels through assembly, drawing, painting, collage, photography and cinema.

Many of his early collages, assemblages and installations are made of low-quality, ephemeral materials such as nylon, wax or worn textiles and hence are too fragile to be exhibited except on very rare occasions. Conners anarchic stance was defined by his caustic irony, boundless dedication, and insistence on keeping as far away as possible from the art market.

The exhibition presents Conners experimental films with a representative selection of nine works. Among these is CROSSROAD (1976), a film that assembles footage of the first U.S. underwater atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946 into a 36-minute study on the horror and sublimity of this apocalyptic event.

 Light out of Darkness references a solo exhibition project of the same name for the University Art Museum at Berkeley, California, in the 1980s. One of the main reasons it never took place was Conners refusal to compromise in his dealings with institutions, whose rules for artists he would not accept. The title Light out of Darkness emphasizes the experimental character of Conners filmic output, which in his early works, especially, resembles a brilliant probing of our perceptual possibilities. The symbolic dualism of light and darkness stands for the artists propensity to think in opposites and metaphors and for his mysticism.

This exhibition has been realized in cooperation with Museum Tinguely, Basel.

Image credit: Bruce Conner. Crossroads, 1976. Film still. Courtesy of Kohn Gallery & Conner Family Trust © Conner Family Trust, 2022.

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