“B l u e W a v e”: Lutz Bacher’s Final Exhibition

By: Ayanna Cuevas 

Photo Courtesy of: Kate Rutz-Robbins

The University Art Gallery opened its doors for Lutz Bacher’s final multimedia exhibition “B L U E W A V E L u t z B a c h e r” on Oct. 5. The artist passed away in May, but the public has an opportunity to see her seven-month project on full display at UCI until Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. 

The name, Lutz Bacher, is a pseudonym that became well-known in the artistic world over a 40-year long career. She never revealed her name or age to keep her identity a mystery that reflects itself in her work. Bacher was an American conceptual, interdisciplinary artist. She was based in Berkeley, Calif. since the ‘70s until she moved to New York in 2013. 

According to the University Art Gallery, “Her extensive oeuvre spanned image and text, photography, painting, sculpture and video to large-scale multimedia installation. In a mode of cultural anthropology, Bacher’s work is distinguished by its visceral scrutiny of the recurring themes of violence, masculinity, memory, sexuality and the body.” 

“B L U E W A V E L u t z B a c h e r” is the name of the final large-scale multimedia installation that is divided into three parts including one other previously commissioned work:Blue Wave,” “Moskva,” “Modules” and “Rocket.”

These exhibitions that make up “B L U E W A V E L u t z B a c h e r” are inspired by a phrase she found in a spy novel, “You are here and you have me and we are daring and desperate and dangerous operatives saving the world and planning the destruction of evil.” 

The first artwork, “Blue Wave” is located at the University Art Gallery. On the entrance to the exhibition, there’s a letter from the exhibition organizer Monica Majoli in which she mentions her long-term friendship with Bacher and also thanks those involved with “Blue Wave.” With this knowledge, viewers enter the room and are then surrounded by the sound of pressurized air. There are two large projected images of city buildings and a moving blue tarp divided by a wall. It is interesting how easy it is to connect the loud sound with the images. In addition, the inharmonious sound reminds the attendees of the theme of destruction. 

Lutz’s “Rocket” is located in the Contemporary Arts Center Lobby. Upon entering the glass doors, there is a panoramic image of a disassembled American rocket. At first glance, the image seems to resemble space and the American exploration of outer space, but it challenges what was thought to fit into Lutz’s theme. One should recall the phrase her inspiration derived from which says, “We are daring and desperate.” The invention of a rocket is quite daring, especially when seeking to explore the unknown. Being in the midst of a climate crisis makes humanity desperate and daring for a solution. Perhaps this desperate solution is the creation of a rocket to find another Earth-like planet that would save humanity. It is quite amazing how one image can say so much. 

After “Rocket,” the “Moskva” follows, a room covered in almost 100 poster size prints. Only cut up sentences and phrases with black marker arrows formed the prints. Italicized Russian words stood out from the prints. A lot of the phrases in the prints seemed to be dialogues of harsh conversations. Interestingly, a few of the attendees thought the reason why Lutz chose to have a Russian sub-theme was because of today’s political climate. Today’s generation is definitely on a mission to destroy corrupt or “evil” figures of power, especially those involved in politics. 

Photo Courtesy of: Kate Rutz-Robbins

Lastly, there was the “Modules” (located in the same building). Here, there were rows of computers with short ongoing films. At one point, the computer monitors displayed images of people’s bodies, but their faces were censored and they were mixed with pictures of people installing an art gallery. At another point, the computer monitors displayed images of writing on a whiteboard that stated court cases like Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Little Rock Nine, non-violence and various dates. While difficult to decipher, this exhibition definitely calls for attention. 

Trying to find the reasoning behind these artworks is quite the task. Therefore, there is no better person to consult than the Associate Director Allyson Unzicker about the artistic themes found in these diverse exhibitions. 

According to Unzicker, “ I can’t really tell you the meaning. Lutz Bacher’s signature was an enigma. So she really leaves it up to interpretation.”  

Ultimately, the artist’s choice to create a multimedia exhibition was an interesting choice as she exercised both our visual and auditory senses.  

Update 11/9/19: This article mistakingly stated “Blue Wave” and has now been corrected to say “B L U E W A V E L u t z B a c h e r”. This article also mistakingly said “artwork” and has now been corrected to say “exhibition”. The article also mistakingly said that the exhibition was “divided into three new exhibitions” and has been corrected to “divided into three parts including”. Also, the word “work” was added after “commissioned”. The word “gallery” has been corrected to “exhibition”. The word “spy” has been added in front of “novel” to specify that it was a spy novel. The word “exhibition” has been corrected to “artwork”. The exhibition organizer’s name was mistakingly written as “Monika Majoli” and has been corrected to “Monica Majoli”. The word “exhibition” has also been deleted after “Rocket”, “Moskva”, “Modules”, and “B L U E W A V E L u t z B a c h e r”. The words “mentioned previously” have been cut for clarity. The “Contemporary Arts Lobby” has been corrected to “Contemporary Arts Center Lobby”. Lastly, the article mistakingly stated “art director Allyson Unzickerher” and has now been corrected to “Associate Director Allyson Unzicker”.