Heaven knows what Hans Winkler's East Village neighbors must have thought when he began documenting neighborhood crime scenes. Upon hearing of a nearby murder, Winkler would head out to photograph the surroundings. Those images may at first have seemed a departure from Winkler's style, which mostly involved his setting up a prank (sinking a gondola in a Venice canal; shambling through a German park dressed in a realistic bear suit) and then recording the reaction. But the crime-centered work is just another example of his interest in the public's response to transgressive acts.
Winkler's Disarming the Dancer.
Hans Winkler discusses his work (and
crime in the art world) at a lecture/slide
show starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan.
29; "Crime Museum" continues until Jan.
31. Both take place at New Langton Arts,
1246 Folsom (at Eighth St.), S.F.
Admission to the lecture is $3-5; gallery
admission is free, with donations
accepted. Call 626-5416 or visit w
Winkler continues to indulge his preoccupations in a new multimedia exhibit, "Crime Museum," which focuses on criminal cases in which art is a weapon, a motive, or a setting. The installations are labeled and tagged in the manner of courtroom evidence and accompanied by lurid fictionalized descriptions of the real-life events that inspired his tableaus.
Disarming the Dancer, for example, combines a blue spray bottle with a small sculpture of a figure whose broken-off arm lies nearby on the floor. Winkler's inspiration? The 1988 case in which Greasy Corner, an 11-pound chunk of butter sculpted by German artist Joseph Beuys, was accidentally thrown away by a cleaning crew. Winkler's spray bottle stands in for the hapless domestic, while the dismembered figure represents the trashed sculpture. Another piece, Cooking Recipe, looks like an ordinary spice rack -- until you notice that one of the innocuous spice jars is labeled "Poison Ivy" in honor of a murder case in which a wife allegedly offed her husband by spiking his food with the toxic plant.
Creepy? Ab-solutely. But Wink-ler's subjects exert an unwholesome yet powerful appeal. Viewers can't help but wonder about the why and how of each case -- displaying the same rubbernecking tendency Wink-ler has long recognized.