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What a concept

Jonathon Keats | February 16, 2012 | Lifestyle Story Galleries and Performance Reviews Culture

How do you commemorate an art movement designed to elude conventional collection and display? “State of Mind,” the current exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum, contains the most encyclopedic collection of artifacts and documentation about California conceptualism ever shown under one roof. And where the originals no longer exist, photos of the works stand in.
In 1969, for example, San Francisco artist Tom Marioni created One Second Sculpture by tossing a rolled-up measuring tape in the air. The “sculpture” comprised the shape and the crackling sound made by the unraveling steel; “State of Mind” includes the tape measure, but only a snapshot of the “event.” In rare cases, a work has been freshly redone, as in San Francisco artist Paul Kos’s stunningly poetic Sound of Ice Melting (pictured below), in which a couple of blocks of ice on the floor are surrounded by microphones that amplify their nearly silent thaw. To encounter Kos’s 1970 sculpture, and many other such genre-busting pieces, is to stand in the presence of a Zen koan—a fitting tribute to a movement born, in part, as a protest against the commoditization of art. Feb. 29–June 17, Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-642-0808,


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