Embark Gallery Presents "This Is A Test"

Four emerging artists present experimental work in Dada-inspired exhibition

Mengmeng Lu. Test 3*3, 2017. Digital photography.

Mengmeng Lu. Test 3*3, 2017. Digital photography.

Every Tuesday at noon the test of the emergency broadcast system echoes over San Francisco “This is a test. This is only a test.” Both ominous in a dystopian sense and reassuring in it’s reliable repetition, the siren and accompanying voice have become an emblem for this show, in which four emerging artists present experimental works that try and try again. As the original Dadaists turned to absurdity to protest the politics of their time, these artists trouble contemporary systems of logic through trial-and-error artmaking, ultimately presenting new possibilities for the “purpose” of art, and all the while documenting the process.

Mengmeng Lu (SFAI) exhibits a playful photographic series inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s Horse In Motion. Whittling down identity to a cyborg-like character that she then applies to different models whilst simultaneously referencing this historical modernist achievement, Lu breaks down barriers of time and history. The work questions the threshold between “life” and “lifelike” and these double images act essentially as a performance of the artist’s own psyche, tested upon different bodies.

Judit Navratil (CCA) shares with us her long-distance somersault career, which is part of an ongoing project in which she inhabits different characters and travels to various locations to practice her craft. The rolling is a meditative practice, forcing the artist to accept and adapt to what lies ahead. Yet it also a demonstration of futility, akin to a hamster spinning in a wheel. It is in the superfluous and amusing qualities of this simple act that Navratil finds freedom.

Oberon Strong. ALL FALLS DOWN, 2017. VHS/digital video, 5 min 49 sec. Still.

Oberon Strong. ALL FALLS DOWN, 2017. VHS/digital video, 5 min 49 sec. Still.

Oberon Strong (SFSU) is an experimental filmmaker whose work explores the queer body and otherness. Strong’s work draws upon the aesthetics and technologies of their childhood to create a queer dystopia, in direct challenge to a utopia in which the hero overcomes repressive social constructs. The deconstructed qualities of the work aim to show that gender has no form or content, and embraces indefinability.

Cristina Velazquez (SFAI) will perform live in the gallery with an iteration of These Flags, a performance that challenges divisions made by Nationalism and invented borders. Questioning the rhetoric of a country that stands “united” during an actually extremely divisive presidential administration, Velazquez’s performance is a metaphorical action for peace that is ultimately futile, as the artist acknowledges such a utopian state will probably never be realized.


This exhibition was juried by Micki Meng of Altman Siegel Gallery and Clea Massiani of Bass & Reiner.

Press Previews by appointment.

Opening Reception: November 10, 2017. 6-9pm

Hours: 12–5pm every Saturday and Sunday, November 11 - December 16

Media Contact: Angelica Jardini, Curatorial Director       angelica@embarkgallery.com

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