Video Art in the BCNM Commons, New Work by Jason Fritz, “Aunt Charlies Lounge: Smoking Only”

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New Work by Jason Fritz
Aunt Charlies Lounge: Smoking Only
VHS Video, 165 mins.

This video uses footage from a single night of performances at San Francisco dive Aunt Charlies Lounge. Filmed almost 10 years ago, it was a time when you could still happily smoke in bars. The video is a site specific response to the New Media Commons Screening Space, as it too has become a kind smokers paradise; a collection of bodies congregating in a liminal space that is technically “outside”, but shares close quarters with the adjoining café, conference area and class rooms. If David Hockney and Fran Lebowitz are correct than the elimination of smoking inside bars and cafes has not only killed the appeal, desire and need to live in major cities, it has also killed off the concept/construction of any physical bohemian culture existing. As our global/digital society has accepted social media platforms like Instagram, and Facebook as the primary means for contemporary idea making and human connection, physical spaces like Max’s Kansas City and Aunt Charlie’s Lounge no longer serve as hosts to Bohemia. Having witnessed the shift of smoking from indoors to outdoors, and the near simultaneous shift of community from physical to digital, I wonder how these cultural shifts may actually be linked? This piece is a call back to the original breeding grounds of radical cultural exchange, involving actual bodies, communities, and of course, the freedom to smoke indoors.

Jason Fritz is an interdisciplinary artist whose work shuttles between performance, film, installation, and disaster. Originally from Detroit, now living and working in San Francisco, Fritz’s work is heavily in conversation with the histories of the queer future and representation through documentation. He is an MFA candidate in the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley and represented by Unspeakable Projects Gallery. His work is currently on view in the group show SIX at UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery. He is a non-smoker.