June 12–September 13, 2015
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive


San Francisco–based art group Will Brown (a collaborative project of David Kasprzak, Jordan Stein, and Lindsey White) re-imagines the roles of artist and curator through an inventive upending of traditional exhibition formats and often mines unexpected or forgotten histories within the cultural sphere. MATRIX 259, which unfolds across various locations, takes its inspiration from a 1978 site-specific Dan Flavin installation at BAM/PFA and the enigmatic stories surrounding it. Will Brown builds upon the sense of myth and transience of Flavin’s work for each of the elements of MATRIX 259.

Flavin’s installation, untitled­ (for Gretchen, a colorful and fond match) (1977–78), consisted of twenty-eight green fluorescent lightbulbs installed vertically in BAM/PFA’s light well; their glow permeated the adjacent stairway and spilled out into the lobby. Although the installation was removed sometime in the 1980s, divergent stories have survived about the ethereal green light that could often be seen emanating from the exterior of the building through the skylight above the stairwell.

For MATRIX 259, Will Brown homes in on the uncertain narratives that circumscribe Dan Flavin’s untitled (for Gretchen, a fond and colorful match), as well as the nomadic state of BAM/PFA itself in this transitional year. The group re-creates the effect of Flavin’s green glow with a light-and-fog installation on the building facade and has constructed a mise-en-scène comprising an old, seemingly abandoned car in front of the now-closed main entrance. Filled with archival materials, the car is conceived as a metaphor for the museum, meant to signify its storied history and its present shifting state. “It’s a paper trail both personally and institutionally,” Will Brown explains. New Light on Riboflavin, an outdoor play commissioned from Bay Area poet and writer Kevin Killian (performed at the exhibition’s opening), amplifies the sense of myth now embedded in Flavin’s lost work. MATRIX 259 also includes an artist book that functions as a “living archive” of the project, which is on display in UC Berkeley’s Morrison Library throughout the duration of the exhibition. For Will Brown, each of these scenarios speaks to the indeterminate and transient state of the Bay Area’s current contemporary art landscape.

-Text by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator

Will Brown, formerly housed in a Mission District storefront, has realized projects with the Kadist Art Foundation, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and Southern Exposure in San Francisco, and di Rosa in Napa. Will Brown received an Alternative Exposure Award from Southern Exposure in 2012 and in 2013 was artist-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, California.

Artist Book Display
Morrison Library
101 Doe Library, on the UC Berkeley campus
Free and open to the public

Morrison Library hours
June 12–August 19: M-F, 12–5 p.m. (closed Friday, July 3)
August 20–September 11: M–F, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (closed Monday, September 7)
Check the library website as hours are subject to change.

Will Brown / MATRIX 259 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator, with Lauren R. O’Connell, curatorial associate. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.