Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thoughts from the public art corner

Adrienne writes on one of the sfmoma blogs:


"In the popular novel, Alice and her Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a young girl follows a rabbit down its rabbit hole to find herself in a place that, from her perspective, is full of nonsense and chaos. In Wonderland Alice meets a cast of characters, anthropomorphic plants and animals and travels through a fantasy land that is far from the hum-drum bore of the world she just left behind.

The Wonderland that curator Lance Fung refers to in his upcoming public, collaborative project is far from the fantastical space of Carroll’s novel. Fung’s Wonderland is the Tenderloin. Tucked between wealthy neighborhoods like Nob Hill and Union Square, the Tenderloin is a small, densely populated neighborhood. The Tenderloin, like many urban areas, is a difficult place to describe and categorize. The Tenderloin has the highest percentage of families, children and immigrants living in any area of San Francisco. Its residents are largely low-income people who are marginalized due to class, citizenship status, race, gender and sexuality, many of whom do not get the social services they need.

Fung has curated ten collaborative groups to create projects in multiple sites throughout this neighborhood including public venues and community organizations. The project features forty-six artists, including those currently living in San Francisco, and other artists both nationally and internationally located. Wonderland began as a graduate level course taught by Fung at the San Francisco Art Institute. According to the press release, Wonderland is “born of and responds to” the diversities of the Tenderloin. The show’s primary audience is cited as those who live or work in the Tenderloin. Later the press release states that it will transform the Tenderloin into a destination for tourists, opening on October 17th with a block party in Boeddeker Park, the projects will remain open for one month. Wonderland is sponsored by the North of Market Community Benefit District and several galleries in the area including the 1AM Gallery and Ever Gold Gallery.

Those are the facts: the title, the neighborhood and the project. To be honest, my research about Wonderland has raised a lot of complicated feelings and concerns for me—many of which are difficult to articulate and relate to many broader issues I have attempted to address here on Open Space; questions related to public art, to socially engaged art practices, to gentrification and specifically to San Francisco’s uneven economic and social landscape."

read the whole article here.

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