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Elliott Linwood


Elliott Linwood was trained in Life Art and went on to develop core graduate curricula teaching this conceptual practice at San Francisco State University. Through this introspective yet performance-oriented approach, Linwood often depicts scenes of everyday life, deploying cross-referencing techniques to investigate different kinds of narrative while highlighting the effects of time and politics upon artifacts, social practices and human bodies. Also informed by studies in visual literacy at New York University and cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago, the simultaneous viewpoints presented in his grids of photo imagery - sourced from the environment, movies, Internet and print media - point to insights beyond any given framing device. His large-scale sculptural installations function similarly as thought provoking clue strewn encyclopedic indexical systems.

Linwood’s work has been exhibited in venues such as the Alternative Museum and Artists Space in New York City; the Center for Photography in Woodstock, New York; Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago, Illinois; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts; Diverse Works in Houston, Texas; Intersection for the Arts, SF Cameraworks, the de Young Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the John Thomas Gallery and Highways Exhibition Space in Santa Monica, and the Palm Springs Art Museum, in California. It has also been reviewed in Art in America, Artforum, The Village Voice, Artweek and other publications. He has received numerous grants and awards from institutions such as Artists Space and Art Matters in New York City and the California Arts Council.


Photographers have often provided examples of the role that perspective plays in how we direct our gaze. For instance, Henri Cartier-Bresson coined the phrase “decisive moments” to describe the surrealistic approach his photojournalism took in depicting precariously balanced events he witnessed unfolding before his camera. Whereas, Duane Michals, on the other hand, trained his philosophical interests toward more liminal in-between spaces of what he called “indecisive moments,” which generate ambiguous emotional narratives that he heightened through photo sequences accompanied by his poetically personalized texts.

Those working in film and theater have mined other veins of inquiry. Edweard Muybridge’s animal locomotion series showing how bodies move through time and space led to the birth of modern cinema, which then strung together frames of grid-like imagery. Michaelangelo Antonioni reappraised the process through his minimalist long shots depicting bodies passing in and out of the cinematic frame; while Akira Kurosawa’s film Rushamon portrayed multiple viewpoints of several false witnesses who recount their perceptions of a crime, thus showing how evidence is constructed version by version rather than something chiseled in stone, or known by all. Bertolt Brecht used alienation techniques which he called “making strange” to break down overly immersive theatrical devices that he thought separated viewers from what they perceive, thus introducing audiences to more active forms of participant observation. Whereas, conceptual artist John Baldessari has incorporated appropriated stock and movie imagery combined with texts for the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language, because of the structural similarities of linguistics to games, since both operate as a mixture of arbitrary and mandatory systems of rules.

Distinctions between theatrical tropes and task-oriented performance art, in fact, often pivot on these points, particularly when instructional score-like texts and photo documentation becomes a genre unto itself, as reflected in the somewhat recent art history of Allan Kaprow’s intimate Life Art “happenings” which aestheticized normal human activity while blurring the boundaries between art and life. And, like Ed Ruscha’s musings about the nature of texts in his paintings – that words, or at least the use of them as a subject, don’t inherently have any real scale – the grid perspective allows an expansion and contraction of otherworldly senses of scale and pacing.

Elliott Linwood's work attempts to weave these kinds of strategies together through his observations of everyday life in ways that alert the audience about their potential role in what is perceived. By mapping his diary-like meditations, the artist attempts to present multiple views of various subjects as if the audience could stand in many different places and look in several directions at once. Because of how photographic images are understood to function, as a system of pointers with indexical qualities that suggest things outside the frame, Linwood's use of the grid format points to parallel events, skewed timelines, cultural constructs, his own orchestration, and, other images which are simultaneously presented, albeit in amusingly slippery states of action and focus.



Born 1956 Lowell, Massachusetts, United States


1998, Juris Doctor, New College School of Law, San Francisco, California

1993, Masters of Arts, San Francisco State University, Interdisciplinary Arts Program, San Francisco, California

1983, Coursework in the Divisional Masters Program, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

1982, Dual Bachelors of Arts, New York University Anthropology and Philosophy Departments, New York, New York


2008, Collecting Dust and Other Things: Town Hall as Hair Salon, Four Walls, San Diego, California, month-long performance and catalog of interviews of museum directors, curators, and arts professionals

2007, Pretty Soon: An Exhibition of Time-based Work, Four Walls, San Diego, California, group exhibition

1995, Wary Still, Highways Exhibition Space, Santa Monica, California, group exhibition

1993, Dress Code: Queering the Signals, San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California, group exhibition and video program

1994, Forms of Address, Walter McBean Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California, group exhibition

1992, Feminism: What Kind?, The Women’s Building, San Francisco, California, performance art series

Solo Exhibitions

2010, Epithets and Epitaphs, Four Walls, San Diego, California

2005, All of My Beautiful Friends, Four Walls, San Diego, California

2005, Instead, Fading Ad Gallery, Brooklyn, New York

2004, Benefit of the Doubt, Mother Jones Gallery, San Francisco, California

1996, Love is the Devil’s Doormat, Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, California

1995, Isolated Incidents, Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut

1995, Endurance, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, California

1994, Citizen Pan, The Victoria Room, San Francisco, California

1993, Swarm, The Lab, San Francisco; travels to Highways, Santa Monica; and Rita Dean, San Diego, California

1993, Mobility, Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, California

1992, Veiled Threats, Mace Gallery, San Francisco, California

1992, Engendered Realms, Eye Gallery, San Francisco, California

1990, Traces of Late, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California (performance)

1989, Index and Ring Fingers, Small Press Traffic, San Francisco, California (catalog)

1982, Danny’s Art Hustling, New York University with the Community Cable Channel, New York, New York (video)

Group Exhibitions

2005, Bay Area Voices, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California

2005, National Annual, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California

2004, Lessons in Survival, Fading Ad Gallery, Brooklyn, New York

2003, Share Your Vision, Artists Space, New York, New York (catalog)

2003, Spice, Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, California

1999, Digging the Future, San Jose Arts Center, San Jose, California

1998, Martyr Nature, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California

1997, New Work, Kingston Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts

1996, Living Testament of the Blood Fairies, Artists Space, New York, New York

1996, Heightened Awareness, de Young Museum, San Francisco, California

1996, The Archive Project, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (catalog)

1995, Better Living Through Chemistry, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, Illinois (catalog)

1994, Amendments, Hallwalls, Buffalo, New York

1994, National Showcase, The Alternative Museum, New York, New York

1994, Creating in Crisis, Spaces, Cleveland, Ohio (catalog)

1994, Random Video, ABC No Rio, New York, New York

1994, Damned: Life, Death and Surface, John Thomas Gallery, Santa Monica, California

1993, The Body Politic, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, California

1992, Without, The Lab, San Francisco, California; travels toDiverse Works, Houston, Texas

1992, The American Dream, Center for Photography, Woodstock, New York

1992, Travel Documents, SF Cameraworks, San Francisco, California


2008, Collecting Dust and Other Things, Four Walls, San Diego, California (catalog)

2006, 944 Magazine, “Best of San Diego,” January, p. 97

2005, Jules Newmark, “Picture Perfect,” 944 Magazine, December, pp. 60-61, repro.

2005, Jennifer Mullen, “Around Town,” San Francisco Bay Times, April 21, p.11

2004, Paul Sendziuk, The Art of AIDS Prevention, http://www.aidsart.org/#!vstc1=linwood, May 21

2003, Lester Strong, “Sharing a Vision,” Art and Understanding, December, p. 21, repro.

2003, Rhomylly Forbes, “Living Testament,” Art and Understanding, November, pp. 20-21

1998, Claudia Gould and Valerie Smith, 5000 Artists Return to Artists Space: 25 Years, Artists Space, New York, New York, p. 293, repro.

1997, Holland Cotter, “The Stuff Life is Made of,” Art in America, April, pp. 50-51, repro.

1996, Bill Arning, “Days with Art,” Village Voice, December 10, p. 95

1996, Art in America, “Previews,” August, p. 25

1996, Joe Vojtko, “Blood Fairies Versus the Monsters of Chaos,” Review, December 1, pp. 11, 14

1996, Harry Roche, “Critic’s Choice,” San Francisco Bay Guardian, November 20, p. 56

1995, Chiori Santiago, “Harmony and Abstracts,” San Jose Mercury News, December 17, p. 4

1995, Hamza Walker, Better Living through Chemistry, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, Illinois (catalog)

1994, Julie Hormel, Visions Art Quarterly, Winter, pp. 336-37, repro.

1994, David M. Roth, “Marked Man,” Artweek, November 3, p. 12, repro.

1994, Sara Wolf, “Corpus Memorandum,” Visions Art Quarterly, Summer, p. 22

1994, Creating in Crises, Spaces, Cleveland, Ohio (catalog)

1994, Michael Milligan, “The Real Thing,” Northern Ohio Live, June, pp. 24-25, repro.

1994, Wickie Stamps, “Art on the Verge,” San Francisco Bay Times, March 10, p. 35, repro.

1994, Michael Darling, “Skin Deep,” Artweek, February 3, back cover

1993, David Levi Strauss, “Review,” Artforum, “summer, pp. 114-115

1993, Christine Tamblyn, “Boys Club, Crafthut, Carnival or Cyberspace?,” High Performance, Summer, pp. 60, 62, repro.

1993, Harry Roche, “Tongue in Cheek,” San Francisco Sentinel, August 25, p. 28, repro.

1993, Glen Helfand, “Like a Den of Inequity,” San Francisco Weekly, August 4, p. 13, repro.

1993, Charlene Roth, “Sting Like a Bee,” Artweek, March 18, p. 16, repro.

1992, Bruno Fazzolari, “Rites of Suffering,” Artweek, December 17, repro.

1992, Harry Roche, “Critic’s Choice,” San Francisco Bay Guardian, December 2, p. 77, repro.

1992, Roberto Friedman, “The Art of Rememberance,” Bay Area Reporter, November 26


2003, Roche Award and Visual AIDS Matching Grant, New York, New York

1996, Artists Space Grant, New York, New York

1995, Art Matters Grant, New York, New York

1994, California Arts Council Fellowship, Sacramento, California

1994, John Caldwell Memorial Award for Excellence, Visual AIDS, San Francisco, California