Public Knowledge

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Public Knowledge

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Public Knowledge has grown out of several years of thinking, planning, and relationship building, in the Bay Area and beyond. Several projects highlighted below laid the groundwork for the Public Knowledge project through activities that explored the role of the arts in civic life and engaged audiences beyond the museum’s walls.

Meeting Points: Stories in Art from the Urban Frontier

October 17, 2015

Location: Rincon Annex, Maritime Museum, Various locations throughout San Francisco

Meeting Points brought together artists, writers, and local San Francisco luminaries for talks and conversations on SFMOMA’s connections to the cultural fabric of San Francisco, past and present. Participants experienced a new public practice artist commission and viewed colorful and historic public works by Anton Refregier at Rincon Annex and Sargent Johnson at the Maritime Museum.

Curator Deena Chalabi commissioned a Can We Talk About Art? map by the artist Amanda Eicher which charted the locations of participants eager to talk about how art matters in our lives today. The map included pop-up chats with an arts commissioner, an F-Train driver, and a park ranger, as well as gallery owners, archivists, curators, and more. The day concluded with presentations at the Maritime Museum includes best-selling local author Gary Kamiya speaking about the hidden aspects of Aquatic Park’s cultural history and artist Constance Hockaday on the public value of the waterfront. Artist Ernest Jolly presents a new intervention in collaboration with Invisible Venue in the context of Sargent Johnson’s vibrant site-specific works.

Chimurenga Library

May 24, 2014 to June 29, 2014

Location: San Francisco Public Library

Chimurenga Library is an ongoing installation and research project by Chimurenga, a Cape Town-based collective focused on Pan-African history and culture. Presented as part of the exhibition Public Intimacy, Chimurenga Library invited library visitors to connect various items in the stacks at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library to generate different narratives, with a focus on the work of African American artists, writers, and performers who participated in pan-African festivals of the 1960s and 1970s.

The presentation comprised text, audio, video and library materials that explored the history of FESTAC ’77, the Second World Festival of Black Arts and Culture, held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977. FESTAC featured a month-long program including visual art exhibitions, music and dance performances and an extensive scholarly conference featuring the major black intellectuals of the day. Four hundred Bay Area residents participated in FESTAC, and it remains the largest Pan-African arts festival that has ever taken place. Yet despite its epic scale and ambition, the story of the festival is neither widely known nor well understood.

The opening talk featured speakers included Stacy Hardy of Chimurenga, Andrew Apter of UCLA, and Akin Adesokan of the University of Indiana at Bloomington who reflected on the event, how it connected to local Bay Area history, as well as wider histories of the African diaspora and what it might mean for us several decades later.

The Field Trip – The Abstraction of Politics and the Politics of Abstraction

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Location: Angel Island

Hiding in plain sight in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has served as a Civil War outpost, an immigration station, a prisoner of war processing center, a Nike missile site, and, currently, a California State Park. How do these rich historical narratives connect to current social debates? On Sunday, September 22, 2013 SFMOMA convened a one-day roving symposium and tour of the island, speculating on contemporary politics, artistic abstraction, scientific imaging techniques, and the military’s Cold War-era psychic spying program known as remote viewing.

The Field Trip was a 5 mile walk created and led by artist Aaron Gach (co-founder of the Center for Tactical Magic), that included art historians, park interpreters, data analysts, and former military remote viewers in a series of site-specific discussions, presentations, and exercises across the island. These multiple perspectives blurred the lines between seemingly disparate subjects as we explored the ways in which we, as individuals and as a society, represent information through technology, art, and facilitated visionary experiences.