Vegas, baby! SFMOMA is preparing a new exhibit when Frida Kahlo leaves at the end of September (seriously, why does that exhibit follow me wherever I go?) and taking its place will be Double Down: Two Visions of Vegas. From September 18, 2008 to January 4, 2009, two recent video works, Olivo Barbieri’s site specific_LAS VEGAS 05 (2005, 13 min.) and Stephen Dean’s No More Bets (2003, 7 min.), will be shown in sequence on facing walls. Barbieri’s photography seriously makes famous landscapes look like toys (those are two of his above), a magical lego-land that’s unsettlingly out of scale.
Keep reading for more on both artist’s and photos of their work
Barbieri films Las Vegas from a helicopter, using a tilt-focus lens that renders objects out of scale, transforming the city’s iconic landmarks into toy-like simulacra. Beginning in the desert, emphasizing the city’s isolation as well as its antipathy for empty spaces and blank surfaces; Barbieri’s camera travels along the outskirts of the city before arriving at its pulsating nerve center, the Las Vegas Strip. In No More Bets, Dean homes in on the luminous and colorful signs, screens, and surfaces that make up Las Vegas, abstracting the visual excess and revealing beautiful, unexpected patterns within the city’s semiotic jumble. At one point in Dean’s film, when the screen goes dark, 4,000 watts of red light will flash in the gallery, engulfing the viewer in the Las Vegas environment.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a presentation of 15 photographs from Lewis Baltz’s 1978 photographic series Nevada. The black-and-white photographs depict abandoned buildings, new construction, and a vast, nearly infinite expanse of desert.