Guns, Drones, and Needlepoint: Exhibitions by Trevor Paglen and Basset and Crites
Three artists at two side-by-side galleries on Geary Street deal in guns, pretty colors, and covert military operations.
Honing in on the darker side of defense, Trevor Paglen photographs otherworldly skyscapes scarred by military and CIA drones used for covert operations in Pakistan and Yemen. At first glance, they could be shooting stars or city lights seen through a rain smeared window - until you read the plaque and realize it’s actually a spacecraft in perpetual geosynchronous orbit. He also uses his talented trigger finger to snap haunting landscapes like the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings.
In exhibits next door, Richard Basset and Chris Crites deal in a more personal display of weaponry. (See: handheld versus launched into the atmosphere.) Basset hits the holy triumvirate of dark, disturbing and funny by taking images from the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and embroidering them on pillows. Chris Crites prefers to paint his felonies on wrinkled paper bags. Guns, yes, but he also translates ‘30s mug shots into surreal colors and pens stick-up notes from your favorite neighborhood bank robber. Your heart will drop into the bottom of your pelvis when reading a few of them, especially if you worked as a bank teller in college. Just sayin’.
49 Geary Street. Basset and Crites at The Jack Fischer Gallery through Mar 5. Trevor Paglen at Altman Siegel Gallery through April 2.