Review: In Jesse Fleming’s ‘The Halftime Show,’ the spectacle is all around us

"The Halftime Show," a video installation by Jesse Fleming, is at 356 Mission.
(Brica Wilcox / 356 Mission)

Typically, the halftime show at a sporting event is a spectacle designed to be passively received. Jesse Fleming’s version, an absorbing video installation at 356 Mission, inverts the form while retaining some of the format.

The 13-minute piece is projected onto four large screens, facing in all directions, of a Jumbotron-style structure suspended from the ceiling. “The Halftime Show” is a meditation that invites private participation.

Opening frames show pale pink rosebushes from overhead in a slow-motion, sensuous sway. The image rhymes with one that appears shortly after, of another pale, round shape in motion, this time a whirling dervish, all in billowing white, spinning in a rhythmic trance on an urban basketball court.

Fleming’s anti-spectacle proceeds at a viscous pace as a montage of scenes, each given a sustained stretch of airtime and accompanied by the aural equivalent, a soundtrack of deep, droning tones. No quick cuts here; no driving beat.


Fleming shows fans in the stands of what seems to be a Clippers game -- now the Jumbotron looks back at them. He shows tourists in Times Square, posing for selfies.

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Spectatorship and self-spectatorship emerge as subtle themes, as do continuous rhythmic motion (wind, waves, dervishes) and roundness (basketballs, a mirrored disco ball, even the bald head of a Buddhist teacher in the final scene).

In this contemplative “Halftime Show,” the view, ultimately, is inward, a matter not of attendance, but presence.


356 Mission, 356 S. Mission Road, through Nov. 2. Closed Monday and Tuesday.