Big Ideas: Beat Notes: From the Rat Bastards to the Mission School with Natasha Boas

Lecture | January 25 | 12 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

This opening lecture offers background to this year’s Big Ideas lectures by exploring the modernist avant-gardes that influenced the artistic and political language of California countercultures in the “long 1960s.” Looking closely at earlier twentieth-century movements such as Dada, Surrealism, Lettrism, and Situationism, Boas will discuss how artistic manifestos and practices such as collage, assemblage, détournement, and bricolage cast art and aesthetics as the primary discourse for radical social change and political engagement. We will consider how these older artistic “isms” directly influenced the Beats, hippies, Yippies, punks, and Machine artists, leaving their mark on the art, language, spaces, environments, and ecologies of the Bay Area.

Natasha Boas, PhD, is an independent international curator, critic, and scholar based in San Francisco and Paris. Trained in twentieth-century Modernist avant-garde movements, she has continued her investigations of subcultures, outsider artists, and emerging art movements with such original work as the essay “A Partial and Incomplete Oral History of the Mission School” in the BAMPFA catalog Barry McGee; the exhibition catalog Energy That Is All Around; and the introduction to Bruce Conner: The Afternoon Interviews. Most recently, she lectured at the Centre Pompidou on “Bricolage and Countercultures.”

About Big Ideas

Big Ideas is a UC Berkeley course open to the public. This year’s theme, California Countercultures, is inspired by the BAMPFA exhibition Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. The course is cotaught by Natasha Boas, independent curator, writer, and critic of contemporary art and theory, and Michael Cohen, associate teaching professor in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley, and features local and national activists and artists.

Sponsored by the Big Ideas program, the Mellon Foundation, and the Arts + Design Initiative at UC Berkeley.

 Free for BAMPFA members, UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff, retirees; 18 & under + guardian | $10 Non-UC Berkeley students, 65+, disabled persons | $12 General admission