Best Halloween San Francisco

Nirmala Nataraj

SF Station Writer

Nirmala Nataraj's Articles
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Allow Yourself to be Seduced
By Nirmala Nataraj (Feb 10, 2016)
Camille Saint-Saens’ "Samson and Delilah" is perhaps one of the most violently erotic operas in all of history. Far be it from the frivolous coquettishness of librettos like "Don Giovanni" or "La Traviata" -- which despite their illustriousness, border on inconsequential melodrama -- the love story of "Samson and Delilah" is nicely tempered by stuff like religious oppression, psychic torment, and the poignancy of heartbreak, made all the more glorious given the bleak Old Testament mise en scene. More »
A Rich Assortment
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jan 10, 2016)
The latest exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, “Arts of the Islamic World from Turkey to Indonesia", on display through March 1st in the museum’s Tateuchi Gallery, is an all-encompassing glimpse into the richness and variety of Islamic art, dating from the death of the prophet Muhammad to contemporary 20th and 21st century interpretations of Islam and the cultural and artistic forces that have continued to shape its reception on a global scale. More »
Adding Context to Myth
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jan 10, 2016)
With her prominent white face makeup and elegantly flowing kimonos, the geisha is one of the most compelling and misconstrued icons in Japanese culture. The subject of the Asian Art Museum's current exhibit, [i]Geisha-Beyond the Painted Smile[/i], casts a decorous shadow on her own mythologized images; while there's an clear cultural context that attempts to dispel prevalent stereotypes about the geisha, the ritualized élan of her world retains its esoteric charm. More »
Artist, Icon, Revolutionary
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jan 05, 2016)
Frida Kahlo is typically rendered as either the eccentric lady artist of the mustache and unibrow, memorialized by Hollywood goddess Salma Hayek, or the shunned wife of legendary muralist and revolutionary Diego Rivera. In a new touring exhibition organized by Kahlo biographer and art historian Hayden Herrera, we get to see Kahlo in all her incarnations—primarily through a slew of seductive, mysterious, and sometimes claustrophobic self-portraits that describe vicissitudes of political and personal agony, as well as the ultimate triumph of self-definition through the manufacturing of Kahlo’s own image. More »
Commemorating San Francisco's Big One
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jan 05, 2016)
Those of us who were in the Bay Area for the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake are accustomed to the fear-addled curiosity of out-of-towners. Earthquakes are the most unimaginable of natural disasters for most people because of their sheer unpredictability -- but being so close to Earthquake Central, we often forget the devastating impact of some of history's major calamities. More »
Eight Artists Get Loony
By Nirmala Nataraj (Sep 06, 2015)
Here’s an etymology game that might seem patently obvious: derive the meaning of “Octonarius Lunius”. Most of you who had your Greek and Latin prefixes drummed into your head in grade school know that “octo” means “of or pertaining to eight.” “Lun” means “having to do with the moon.” The eight artists assembled in the eponymous group show might raise questions more relevant than word origins, but the “Loony Eight” is a suitable moniker for the crew, in only the most flattering sense. More »
Collaborative Art Makes Good
By Nirmala Nataraj (Aug 18, 2015)
Traditional gallery vestibules seem like appropriate settings for most fine art -- considering that even the most provocative works of our time have been subdued by the sterile, academic raison d'etre of modern criticism. Besides the fact that the archetypal artist is a lonely malcontent, happy to showcase his or her work in compartmentalized settings that don't spur viewer interaction or much of a two-way sentiment, for that matter. Not so with "Peer Pleasure 2", an exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that focuses on the social potential of making art. More »
Open for Interpretation
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jul 06, 2015)
Walking up the stairs to the Intersection for the Arts gallery, potential spectators might be somewhat bewildered at the sight that greets them; coating the steps is a sheet of white felt, covered with ostensibly Persian names, in dispassionate block letters. Among the more obscure appellations, one can pick out “Saddam” and “Osama” almost instantly, as the eye’s natural tendency is to wander to what’s recognizable and fill it out with familiar meaning. In some ways, you can say that’s the very crux of Taraneh Hemami’s collection of installation work, "Most Wanted". More »
War and the Persistence of Memory
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jul 06, 2015)
By now, the rupture between history and its present depiction is par for the course in contemporary art -- but Binh Danh and Elizabeth Moy go at it one further in their haunting menagerie of images culled from personal legacies of war and reflections on the abiding effects of human conflict. In a collaborative exhibition entitled [b]Disrupted: A Photographic Installation About Memory, History & War[/b], Danh and Moy string together narratives retrieved and woven anew from both original photographs and archival images of the Vietnam War. More »
A Fresh Rejoinder to Experimental Drama
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jul 06, 2015)
The stage is dark and the atonal rhythms of a mildly eerie soundscape float out to the audience before a wash of light spatters, turn by turn, four performers slumped against the walls, who each utter a phrase that's either cryptic or equivocal, before the action commences. From my personal experience with theatre, this is the kind of enigmatic kickoff that could precede either a poorly rendered performance piece, or a fresh rejoinder to experimental drama. Thankfully, Campo Santo's production of [b]Haze[/b] -- a loosely connected series of aphoristic vignettes by four contemporary authors -- went for the latter. More »
Nirmala Nataraj's Articles
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