In the Night at the Museum movies starring Ben Stiller, exhibits literally come to life. Though collectionsat the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive do not come galloping out of their frames, onecould easily argue that the works capture much about life and living.
The recently opened State of Mind: New California Art circa 1970 exhibit is particularly timely. Displaysare sectioned off by theme: the street, the body, politics, private/public space and language/wordplay.Amidst Occupy protests and national debates about the legality of contraception, the State of Mindcollection seems to transcend time, dialoguing with and addressing the present state of our union.
Another fascinating temporary BAM/PFA project is The Reading Room. When you walk into this room,you’ll find that, not only are you invited to read, but also the room itself reads to you. Concurrent poetryrecordings play you move among the shelves. But that’s not where your interaction with The ReadingRoom ends; the curators invite you to take home a free book and, in turn, to replace it with one fromyour library. The original set of books in The Reading Room were drawn from the overstock collectionsof several East Bay small presses, but, by virtue of the book exchange, the collection is expected to be inconstant flux – a fact that makes the prospect of more regular visits titillating.
Whether you’re schmoozing at one of the museum’s L@TE: Friday nights or lying on the rolling orangewaves of Thom Faulder’s BAMscape, accessing free Wi-Fi, you might find that you have become part andparcel of the museum’s art. After all, the jutting concrete balconies of BAM/PFA beg visitors to admirethe collections from multiple angles. From these vantage points, you’d be hard-pressed to deny that the exhibits are very much alive.
While admission is free to Berkeley students, there’s also Free First Thursdays for the public. The Stateof Mind: New California Art circa 1970 exhibit and The Reading Room project will be open through June17, 2012.