Archive for 2008

Happy Holidays

12.24.2008  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Martin Parr, Untitled [sundae with cherry and straw], from the series British Food 1995

We’ll be home & hearth-side the next few weeks, with stacks and stacks of all-natural, burns-cleaner-than-wood, non-petroleum-wax-chip firelogs and plenty of solstice cheer. So much to delight you going on in the galleries over the winter break, however, & the cold short days are always a sweet time for museum-going, don’t ya know? See you back here on the blog in the new New Year—-xxoo


Guest Writer: Caveh Zahedi on “I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore”

12.22.2008  |  By
Filed under: Essay

[This Saturday, as part of our “Vegas Highs, Vegas Lows” film series, and timely to our winter holidays, we’ll be screening Bay Area filmmaker Caveh Zahedi’s I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore. Winner of the prestigious Critic’s Prize at the Rotterdam International film festival, this real-life documentary comedy fo... More

¡Viva Las Vegas Showgirls!

12.18.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

[This Saturday! As part of our “Vegas Highs, Vegas Lows” film series, and in conjunction with the exhibition Double Down: Two Visions of Vegas, we’re screening Viva Las Vegas (1pm) and Showgirls (3pm). Not to be missed!]

Never have there been two films so ripe for reassessment as George Sidney’s Viva Las Vegas, and Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls. Made thirty years apart, they both reside in that basket reserved for the culturally unsanctioned. Maybe it’s due to the stain of Vegas — that fata Morgana that has traditionally made the highfalutin see red. Now, in the true era of anything goes, in which the Vegas aesthetic has established itself as the norm, it’s just possible their time has come…

Why reassess an Elvis movie? ‘Cause this one’s so damned fun! There are a few decent Elvis movies. Viva is the only great one. The King is as close as the United States ever came to producing an autochthonous deity. The lack of ... More

Collection Rotation: Tucker Nichols

12.15.2008  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

[Our regular feature, “Collection Rotation“. Every month or so I invite a local guest to organize lists, groupings, or ‘exhibitions’ from our permanent collection. Our wonderful guest this month is Bay Area artist Tucker Nichols.][Note: clicking through on the images will take you to our collection pages, with more info on art and artist.]

Ten Natural Pairs
Collected by Tucker Nichols

Creating an online exhibition from SFMOMA’s permanent collection carries the luxury of choice without the hassles of scheduling or ... More

Something you just won’t see everyday:

12.12.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

SFMOMA director Neal Benezra, with Elaine McKeon, tending bar in the Koret Visitor Education Center, for last night’s Marioni salon:

Tom Marioni; SFMOMA exhibitions design manager Kent Roberts.

Tammy Fortin; Kent Roberts

All pictures: Chris Brennan.

Many many more pictures of last night’s salon are here.


Tonight’s FREE BEER Guest Bartender? SFMOMA director Neal Benezra.

12.11.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

For serious.

Tonight’s guest bartender at Tom Marioni’s salon is none other than SFMOMA director, Neal Benezra. And not only that, but Neal will be joined in his labors by long-time SFMOMA trustee and former chairman of the board, Elaine McKeon. It should be said that, among Ms. McKeon’s many leadership credits, it was she who recruited Neal from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002. Also, she wears fabulous outfits.  I’m looking forward to seeing this pair’s prowess behind the bar.

Tonight’s all-star cast ALSO includes SFMOMA exhibition design manager & chief preparator of nearly thirty years, Kent Roberts, as the evening’s reader. Not to be outdone by Neal, Kent is bringing along his own sidekick, media arts assistant & Open Space regular, Tammy Fortin, who for certain won’t let herself be outdone by Elaine in the get-up department. Plus, she’ll be playing the drums.

ALSO on tonight: novelist Michael Cunningham and design... More

Interview: Corey Keller on Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible 1840 – 1900

12.09.2008  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

Left: Auguste-Adolphe Bertsch, Male itch mite, ca. 1853–57; Salt print; San Francisco Museum of Art. Right: Wilson Alwyn Bentley, Snowflakes, before 1905; Printing-out paper prints; Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C.

[Here, our managing editor of communications, Apollonia Morrill, talks with SFMOMA associate curator of photography Corey Keller about the exhibition Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900. More than four years in the making, Corey’s “science show”–as we often heard it... More

Seen on the way into the office last week:

12.08.2008  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Click through for the larger view. Sorry my badge is in the pic.


Our winter of Are we discontent with Derek Jarman?

12.06.2008  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Hello all. A small group of us have been having the occasional post-screening discussion in response to the Jarman retrospective now on. As I noted yesterday, none of us have been quite sure how to gauge our encounter with Derek Jarman. Weighing in below are Brecht Andersch, our projectionist, and Stephen Hartman, film-loving psychoanalyst! (You may remember them from our summer of Alexanderplatz). If you have thoughts, we’d love to hear them.]

Stephen Hartman:

So fond of techno am I that I have always refused to listen to—I’m sure I’ve even said “hated”—opera without knowing much about it. Then, recently, a dear friend set out to convert me. We spent a wonderful evening listening and comparing. As I write now, my new heroine Régine Crespin is belting out Verdi. Alas, me…a convert?

Unfortunately, diving back into Derek Jarman after many years had the opposite effect. Where I was once an Act Up boy overwhelmed by the poetry of The Garden... More

Guest Writer: James Mackay on “The Angelic Conversation”.

12.05.2008  |  By
Filed under: Essay

[We’re a lot about Derek Jarman on the blog of late. It’s been for many of us in the theater a process of discovery and rediscovery, and if the conversations I’ve participated in and overheard are a good barometer, even for those who are more familiar with Jarman’s oeuvre it isn’t as much meeting an old friend as re-encountering a familiar stranger you’re not quite sure what to do with. James Mackay, who produced numerous films with Jarman, writes here about the production of The Angelic Conversation, the fir... More

Tonight! Beer, surveillance, border crossings, chalkboard music

12.04.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Hey all,

Just a reminder that tonight’s Tom Marioni FREE BEER Salon is featuring that famous local painter Robert Bechtle as guest bartender, and that famous local news & gossip maven Leah Garchik as guest reader.

Also on tonight in the D-Space, starting at 7pm when the salon closes, is a cool-sounding project developed by Stanford students as part of our experiment Group Work, a collaboration between three types of institution: an art school (CCA), a research university (Stanford), and a modern art museum (that’s us). Peggy Phelan at Stanford, and Brian Conley at CCA, have been leading courses on art education and participation, and as part of their coursework, each student group is producing projects related to those themes. Tonight the Stanford group presents, and next Thursday the CCA group will be here.

Details from the Standford students:

We imagine a lively atmosphere with eccentric sounds, people in puppet clothes, photographs (like at an amusement park), and o... More

December 1, Day Without Art

12.01.2008  |  By
Filed under: Uncategorized

[Taking a cue from Michael Buitron at Leap Into the Void (via MAN), rather than marking the 19th annual (but now somewhat invisible?) “Day Without Art” by shrouding an artwork or going dark for the day, I leave you with these wonderful stills from some of Derek Jarman’s earliest Super 8 mm films, with thanks to producer James Mac... More

Saturday’s Jarman films: “The Garden” & “Wittgenstein”

11.28.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

We have a fantastic pair of Jarman films this Saturday for your holiday weekend, and I have to say that, for my part, I can think of no better method of recovery from over-familial holiday indulgence than a good dose of hours in the Wattis theater watching movies. Plus, nearly four hours with Tilda Swinton? Who would refuse?

The line-up is: The Gar... More

Happy Thanksgiving.

11.27.2008  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Unknown, Untitled [Apples], n.d. Gelatin silver print, Gift of Gordon L. Bennett. Collection SFMOMA.

Martin Parr, Untitled [metal gravy dish], from the series British Food, 1995. Digital print. Collection SFMOMA.

May it be generous and may it be warm.  Go easy on the butter, heavy on the cream. xo, SS


Call for experts in the impossible: this Saturday

11.24.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

If you’re around this holiday weekend and harbor both a special talent for achieving the impossible and the lecturing skills to teach someone how to achieve that miracle themselves, a group of SFAI graduate students wants to hear from you. In conjunction with The Art of Participation, they are organizing an “Art of How-To: Intuitive, Impossible, and Absurd” mini-lecture hour in our Koret Visitor Education Center (slash “D-Space”) on Saturday afternoon, inviting you to come down and educate the public with your special wisdom. Everyone’s welcome to propose a topic, and selected presenters will be given five minutes to discourse. They’ll be shooting video and it’s possible we’ll post some of the results here on the blog.

Contact info and more details are here.


Derek Jarman: Throbbing Gristle “TG Psychic Rally in Heaven”

11.21.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

The last of my week of Derek Jarman music videos. Jarman made this video for Throbbing Gristle’s “TG Psychic Rally in Heaven” in 1981. Fair warning, it’s quite violent and explicit in language & content.

I think Jarman’s broken flashes of images complement TG’s challenging, avant-garde music.  Peter Christopherson, who played what we could call the percussion for the band, later went on to form the band Coil, which Jarman employed for soundtracks to many of his films.


Derek Jarman: The Smiths “Ask”

11.20.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

More Jarman videos! This is one of several he made for The Smiths, Ask, from 1986.

Derek Jarman’s films and The Smiths’ songs share similar motifs; this video is a prime example.Both reflect on a fractured world.While Morrissey croons, “If it’s not love then it’s the bomb that will bring us together” Jarman’s video depicts romantic encounters in front of an abandoned warehouse.The skeleton dance partner makes the entire scene into a dance macabre: the youth celebrate but the world falls to pieces.



Derek Jarman: Marianne Faithfull “Broken English”

11.19.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

For your dose of intense and stunning war images, here’s the video Jarman directed for Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English (1979).


Derek Jarman: Pet Shop Boys “Rent”

11.18.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

A week of Jarman vids, continued! Jarman made three videos for the Pet Shop Boys: Rent, It’s a Sin and a set of projections for the band’s live shows. Today I have posted the video for Rent but I encourage you to seek out the others, as they are phenomenal as well.  I love the lyrics of this song, they are so to the point.


Derek Jarman: Marianne Faithfull “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”

11.17.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Hi, it’s Megan. We’ve got a Derek Jarman film series on right now, continuing through November and much of December. Some of you will know that, especially early in his career, Jarman made a lot of music videos. All this week, I will be posting some of my favorites.

To complement Jarman’s rebellious attitude, I thought I’d start off the week with the rebel Marianne Faithfull. Jarman created this video for her song “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” (1979). It’s a beautiful and haunting video. As an added plus, she’s a babe.


free hangover

11.14.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Dear reader, this is Tammy.

Last night, as part of the ongoing exhibition The Art of Participation, SFMOMA hosted the first in the series of the Tom Marioni salons: The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art. Bringing this simple act into a museum setting required the building of a bar (which I am petitioning to keep well-stocked beyond the show) in the Koret Center, ordering twelve cases of Pacifico beer from the local Bevmo, the completion of many pink and green logistics forms, the administration of drink tickets, and t... More


11.13.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

For serious, I have been waiting to post that headline for over a year.  Starting tonight! and for the next three months, we are hosting Bay Area conceptual artist and sculptor Tom Marioni‘s weekly salon, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art. If you’re not familiar with this work, Tom has been organizing the... More

Art of nearly participating

11.11.2008  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Hey! It’s Masanori Mark Christianson, bass guitarist for Oakland’s indie rock band, The Heavenly States,  dangling Lygia Clark’s Diálogo: Óculos (Dialogue: Goggles)

Photo by Cynthia Mott.

Hey facebook, where I found this pic. Thanks, Mark!


Interview: Rudolf Frieling on The Art of Participation. Part II

11.06.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Conversations

Tom Marioni, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art, 1970 – 2008, 1979 installation view at SFMOMA; © 2008 Tom Marioni; photo: Paul Hoffman

Part two of my conversation with Curator of Media Arts, Rudolf Frieling, on The Art of Participation. Yesterday we covered some specific projects in the exhibition and what an ‘art of participation’ might be; today we’re talking about the build-it-yourself cardboard furniture in the Koret Visitor Education Center, and the particular challenges and delights... More

Interview: Rudolf Frieling on The Art of Participation

11.05.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Conversations

Matthias Gommel, Delayed, 2002; closed-circuit sound installation; photo: courtesy the artist; © 2008 Matthias Gommel

A few weeks back I had the chance to talk with Curator of Media Arts Rudolf Frieling about The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now, rolling in this Saturday. The exhibition looks at ways artists have been engaging audiences as col... More

SFMOMA Red Blue Study: Chris Sollars

11.03.2008  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

[A special election-week Collection Rotation by San Francisco-based artist & curator Chris Sollars, whose experimental documentary C RED BLUE J will be screening in the Wattis theater Nov 4. All works collection SFMOMA & listed in detail at the bottom of this post.]

At Home in Red & Blue Brother Sister America

Growing up, my sister Jenn... More


10.31.2008  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………Photo: Ramona Labat

On November 4, we’ll be screening two democracy-themed projects by Bay Area artists. Chris Sollars’ documentary C RED BLUE J explores the red state/blue state divide of 2004, as Chris juggles his beliefs with those of a sister work... More

Woman Demon Human: in Mandarin

10.30.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Just a quick reminder that tonight’s screening of Huang Shuqin’s Woman Demon Human will be on beautiful 35mm sans subtitles! Which seems like a lot of fun, and kind of a don’t-miss opportunity, whether you understand the language or you don’t.  Considered China’s “only genuine feminist film”,  Woman Demon Human stages an unorthodox biopic of famed Beijing Opera star Pei Yanling, whose career was noted for her portrayal of male roles, especially the male underworld god, Zhong Kui.

For a quick gloss on both the narrative and the why of a screening sans subtitles, see Gina Basso’s post of last week.

Rediscovering the Fourth Generation: Woman Demon Human
Huang Shuqin, 1987, 106 min.
35mm, screened in Mandarin
7:00 p.m., Phyllis Wattis Theater
$5 general; free for SFMOMA members or with museum admission
(requires a free ticket, which can be picked up in the Haas Atrium).


No thing. Not anything. Naught. NOT YET.

10.28.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

This is a portrait studio if I say so.

Doesn’t look like much, does it?

It will. This pair of empty desks and chairs tucked into a corner of the third-floor landing will shortly become the portrait studio for the Jochen Gerz project THE GIFT, part of the upcoming exhibition The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now. In brief: the exhibition ex... More

I WANT YOU: Sadie Lune

10.27.2008  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Tony Labat, I WANT YOU, a project for Live Art at SFMOMA. Design by MendeDesign. Photography by George Westcot.

Performer, artist, ‘pleasure activist,’ and professional dominatrix Sadie Lune was the top-scoring I WANT YOU winner, with one of the most directly activist performances of the night. If you haven’t been watching the blog, back on September 11th,  Tony Labat staged an event in our Wattis Theater, riffing on the iconic “I Want You” army recruitment campaigns, asking Bay Area residents to make their own demand... More