Cool Medium

Video commentaries cut the crap

SAT 8/30 Nothing symbolized mid-'70s American profligacy like a Cadillac, so the Bay Area provocateurs known as Ant Farm chose a '59 El Dorado to drive through a tower of burning TV sets at the Cow Palace on July 4, 1975. Media Burn, Ant Farm's footage of that event, is one of the great works of video art. More than a critique of consumer culture, it revealed the mediating nature of television and the distance between image and reality. SFMOMA remounts the Ant Farm piece along with a more recent pair of equally perceptive installations in "Reprocessing Information: Utilizing Information as Landscape, Medium, and Commentary."

Oakland artist Anthony Discenza's November does the surrealists and MTV one better by pushing clips of the 2002 election at such speed that their original meaning disintegrates -- pointing up our tendency to transmute TV coverage into actual experience. And in Pierre Huyghe's 1999 split-screen The Third Memory, John Wojtowicz re-enacts his 1972 bank robbery, immortalized in Dog Day Afternoon. The collision of fact, recollection, and fiction is as revelatory as it is unpredictable.

The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. today (and continues through Feb. 8) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 357-4000 or visit
-- Michael Fox

Much ado about a book

THURS-MON 8/28-9/1

While anti-Clinton biographies became a cottage industry for the right wing during that administration, Bush profiles tend toward hagiographic -- no surprise at a time when the government thinks free speech is problematic. One infamous bio of Dubya, Fortunate Son, made a brief splash: Author J.H. Hatfield brought heady charges of draft dodging and a coke bust against Bush. But the messenger was undone by his message: Unmasked as a felon himself, Hatfield saw his charges, despite their apparent truth, dismissed and his book recalled.

Horns and Halos, a documentary by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky, mixes up an archetypal cast -- the arrogant ruler, the doomed challenger (Hatfield killed himself), the crusading publisher -- in a grimly fascinating précis of much of what is wrong with America. It screens at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. (plus Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 4) at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight, S.F. Admission is $3-6.50; call 668-3994 or visit
-- Gary Morris

Americans can't find it on a map

FRI-SUN 8/29-31

Enough with Bollywood. The bloated Indian movie industry took a welcome hit when it was spoofed by The Guru, starring definition-of-bland Heather Graham. Big-budget crap moviemakers -- in India, here, everywhere -- are just the boring tip of an otherwise quality iceberg. Part of that bigger picture is QFilmistan, the only international queer South Asian film festival in the United States, which features a wide variety of genres, from Neeru Paharia's animated short Kali vs. the Evil Foot to the documentary Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World. The first of six programs begins Friday at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $7; call 824-3890 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

A Bloody Good Band

THURS 8/28

Venus Bleeding is well respected in the Bay Area punk scene. Sure, its members have that "Donnas" problem -- they're a little too cute for their own good -- but that doesn't keep them from rocking. The Floating Corpses, Nebucadnezzer, and Children in Heat open at 9 p.m. at the Eagle Tavern, 398 12th St. (at Harrison), S.F. Admission is $6; call 626-0880 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

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