Over the Top: Math Bass & the Imperial Court SF
April 1–July 23, 2017
Familiar symbols, flipped and “queered” to create new shared meaning, are at the heart of this exhibition that pairs new work by a contemporary California artist with the creative practice of a local organization. In paintings, sculpture, and video, perception-bending Los Angeles-based artist Math Bass emphasizes that symbols change meaning according to context and orientation, and that the body and its costumes are meaningful symbols whether they are actually present or only suggested. For Over the Top: Math Bass and the Imperial Court SF, Bass’ compelling work is presented alongside crowns, scepters, portraits, and banners bearing the insignia of the Empresses and Emperors who have served the Imperial Court of San Francisco. These monarchs, elected annually, spearhead charitable fundraising efforts for the alternative society, whose core supporters are drag queens and other members of the LGBTQ community. Over the course of their 51-year history, the Imperial Court has created its own traditions in order to form family and new possibilities for survival. The “Over the Top” symbols activated in this exhibition will highlight acts of fantastic creative invention. Visitors will draw new connections and be both delighted and inspired in learning about practices that are playful, political, and subversive at the same time.