“The Land of a Million Cereals”:A Mixed-Media Installation by Ryan Alexiev

Since being popularized by the Kellogg brothers at the start of the 20th century, breakfast cereal has become an American cultural juggernaut. It often tastes about as good as you'd imagine a juggernaut would, too, but that hasn't prevented sales that reap profits of 40 to 45 percent for the industry. Cereal is the fiber of the American Dream, or so posits San Francisco artist Ryan Alexiev, who creates surreal immigrant fantasies based on the stuff. For Alexiev, the 400-some breakfast cereals on the market symbolize the American ideology of free choice in consumer form, a heady and confusing thing for some immigrants to encounter. Alexiev himself is the son of Bulgarians who came to America, and for “The Land of a Million Cereals” now on display at Mission 17, he takes on the persona of a fresh-faced peasant adrift in a land of eye-poppingly hued foodstuffs. In prints, sculpture, video, and drawings, he sucks the milk from this sugary metaphor, even battling the elusive Franken Berry. As far as nutritional value goes, Alexiev's fairy tales offer much more substantive stuff to chew on than any kind of cornflake.

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