What Do You Think?
This morning, SFMOMA unveiled new design details of the expanded building project. The expansion, as you likely know by now, is being designed by architectural firm Snøhetta in collaboration with SFMOMA, and this morning Craig Dykers, one of the principals of the firm, talked SFMOMA staff through a presentation of the new designs. There will be new education spaces, lots of light, and ground-level galleries and orientation spaces that will be free to the public. Craig will be presenting and discussing details of the new design for the first time in public tomorrow evening, in YBCA’s Novellus theater. You’ll also be able to watch his presentation LIVE online, HERE.
Groundbreaking for the expansion is scheduled for summer 2013, with completion of new digs projected for early 2016. Here’s the PRESS RELEASE. There’s more detailed info on our expansion page. And here’s a video!
Thom Donovan on Matt Mullican
Faced with the totally administered, a sort of mysticism becomes a last resort, a line of flight from countless mundane tyrannies of the contemporary soul. In Matt Mullican’s Bulletin Boards series, the existence of everyday objects — a lamp, a sewer grate, a telephone, the banister of a staircase — is rendered both generic and numinous. Photographs of interior spaces (windows, doorframes, hallways) redouble the mental experience of looking. There is no whole, just a gathering of images whose haphazard constellation marks the continuous accretion of an archive. The Open remains open. The drafting or deliberate leaving-unfinished becomes a work regarding how worlds begin, how our “thrownness” (Heidegger) is accomplished. Liberated by distraction, we pay for this distraction with our lives. I don’t know if I am subject or object of this work, what the POV of a bulletin board is. The photograph of a Pinocchio puppet (spiritual automaton) hails me/the viewer.
The corporate logo JCPenney signifies the arbitrary power of the name in a time of corporations, mass production, branding; the aura of its font, the curve of the letters — becoming artifactual. In a talk I saw Mullican give recently, he spoke of his persona under hypnosis (“That Person”), loving to draw the letters of the words Baby Love. Love of letters as letters, where an emotional identification with a world of things grasps us (human animals, consumers). The images of things before (or after) they have names become memento mori. Or reminders, as my wife likes to say, that we are “living corpses.” We form a fellowship with the dead. The artist’s fingers in the mouth of a corpse embody the burden of this fellowship. The photographs gathered and pinned here project a time in the future when we will seem even more strange to ourselves. Like a time capsule, hieroglyphs, artifacts — not just cosmology, but the future conditional tense of a speculative anthropology. The “self” or “I” or “That Person” or “Mullican” acting, at different points, as both the object and the subject of a cottage anthropological project.
The arbitrariness of the symbol = the arbitrariness of fashion, of design, of the built world = the arbitrariness of facts, of photographic light and perspective = the arbitrariness of “us,” of relation. The practice of the artist induces Bardo, death in life, transmigration of the “soul at work.” I am reminded of Charles Olson’s phrase at the end of The Maximus Poems, “My wife my car my color myself.” Insistent punctuation of the possessive pronoun “my.” Though perhaps in Mullican’s work, the totally subjective (the artist’s investigation of dreams, and memories, and fantasies; his creation of a complex symbolic logic, as well as an architecture for symbolization) becomes objective where the “person” is exteriorized by compulsive output. The Bulletin Boards represent the rudimentary arrangements of this output, its substrate. Theyact as both archive and processor, open draft and mental map, invoking the subject who must become object-like in order to experience (their own) life.
Thom Donovan is a writer, curator, editor, and archivist. He edits the weblog Wild Horses of Fire — now in its seventh year! — and co-edits ON Contemporary Practice, a print journal for critical writings and conversations. His book The Hole is forthcoming from Displaced Press.
Our One on One series features artists, writers, poets, curators, and others from around the country, responding to works in SFMOMA’s collection. You can follow it here.
The Lunch Break Times
Artist Sharon Lockhart reflects on the presence of the individual in the context of industrial labor through film, photography, and printed matter. For Lunch Break (2008), she spent a year at a naval shipbuilding plant in Maine, and the exhibition — now on view — examines the workers’ activities during their time off from production. SFMOMA is also distributing Lockhart’s newspaper, The Lunch Break Times, which relates stories about labor and lunch breaks. Every Wednesday, at NOON, we’re posting one of the articles here.………………………….
THE BELOVED BANH MI ~ ~
Forget the PB&J, the BLT, and even the panini. We submit that the banh mi, invented in Vietnam, is the world’s greatest sandwich. Wanting to learn more about banh mi, we went straight to the source: Andrea Nguyen. Andrea is a celebrated author and cooking teacher based in Northern California. A contributing editor to SAVEUR magazine, her work also appears in the Los Angeles Times. Her publications include Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors (Ten Speed Press, 2006); Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More (Ten Speed Press, 2010); and Asian Market Shopper (Chronicle Books, 2011). We’re eagerly anticipating the publication of her next book, Asian Tofu, in 2012, also published by Ten Speed Press. Andrea’s website, Viet World Kitchen, is an indispensable repository of information on Vietnamese cooking, as well as on the social significance of food in Vietnamese culture. Andrea generously shared her master banh mi and daikon and carrot pickle recipes with us. Thanks, Andrea!
Whenever I bite into a banh mi sandwich — whether it’s on a street in Vietnam, sidewalk of Little Saigon, or in my home kitchen — I am ingesting Vietnamese history and culture. The bread, condiments, and some of the meats are the legacy of French and Chinese colonialism. But in its entirety, the beloved banh mi is 100 percent Viet, full of self-determination, resourceful craftsmanship, and culinary magic. It often costs little but deserves a hefty sum for all the care involved.
Banh Mi Sandwich
For each sandwich:
1 petite baguette roll or a 7-inch section cut from a regular-length baguette, purchased or homemade
Mayonnaise, real (whole egg) or homemade mayonnaise
Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce
Your choice of boldly-flavored meat or tofu, sliced and at room temperature
3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, pickling or English variety preferred
2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
3 or 4 thin jalapeño pepper slices
Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle (Do Chua) (recipe follows)
1. Slit the bread lengthwise, and then use your fingers or a bread knife to hollow out the insides, making a trough in both halves. Discard the insides or save for another use, such as breadcrumbs. If necessary, crisp up the bread in a toaster oven preheated to 325ºF, and then let it cool for a minute before proceeding.
2. Generously spread the inside with mayonnaise. Drizzle in some Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Start from the bottom portion of bread to layer in the remaining ingredients. (As with all sandwiches, you’ll eventually develop an order for layering the filling so as to maximize the interaction between flavors and textures.) Close the sandwich, cut it in half crosswise for easy eating, and enjoy.
Daikon and Carrot Pickle (Do Chua)
Try this daikon and carrot pickle recipe once and then tweak the recipe to your liking. Variations include adding tangy-sweet-pungent pickled shallots (cu kieu) to the mixture, as well as making heavier on the carrot side than the daikon side. I prefer to keep a higher ratio (say 2:1) of daikon to carrot as I like the mild bite of daikon radish. I like a tangy-sweet flavor whereas you can alter the ratio of sugar to vinegar to make the brine sweeter, and hence affect the pickle’s flavor.
Makes about 3 cups
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 pound daikons, each no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup lukewarm water
1. Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Use your hands to knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling the water from them. They will soften and liquid will pool at the bottom of the bowl. Stop kneading when you can bend a piece of daikon so that the ends touch but the daikon does not break. The vegetables should have lost about one-fourth of their volume. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. Return the vegetables to the bowl if you plan to eat them soon, or transfer them to a 1-quart jar for longer storage.
2. To make the brine, in a bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the vegetables. The brine should cover the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Beyond that point, they get tired.
Andrea Nguyen is the acclaimed author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Asian Dumplings, Asian Tofu (forthcoming 2012), and the Asian Market Shopper iPhone app. Andrea’s work appears in the Los Angeles Times and SAVEUR, where she is also a contributing editor. She is a regular guest on food radio programs and has been an invited speaker at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium and Yale University. Andrea resides in the Bay Area and publishes Vietworldkitchen.com.
Marriage Equality – Status Update
Today from 1pm-5pm we’re streaming The Air We Breathe – Marriage Equality: Status Update, a series of public discussions looking at the state of the campaign for marriage equality. More information on the program is here. Please join us for discussion in the chat box below the video. I’ll be moderating comments there, and when possible will relay your questions to the panelists. If you’d like to chime in via Twitter, use the hashtag #TAWB. UPDATE: I’ll post all the video of the day’s discussions here on Monday.
5 Questions: Simon Fujiwara
Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests. For this iteration I sat down with London-born, Berlin-based artist Simon Fujiwara. Tonight at 8 p.m. he performs The Boy Who Cried Wolf, in which he tracks his own identity and sexuality through three sites (the bar, the wedding, and the mirror). There is also a rotating stage.
Do you collect anything?
I collect a lot of things. Every winter I go to Mexico, and I generally arrive with nothing and send a container of objects and artifacts back to Europe. My studio basically looks like a prop shop; there’ll be anything from hands of saints taken from deconstructed churches to old safes. I collect a lot of fake books; anything from secret libraries containing spaces to put objects in, or books that are safes. I also collect eggs, all kinds of eggs, from stone eggs to Fabergé eggs to rubber eggs that bounce. There is no hierarchy in price or style, it just has to be egg-shaped. Anytime I see an egg I buy it. In general I collect fake food. Every city tends to have a handicraft relationship with fake food. Mexico is mostly papier-mâché hand-painted; in Japan they are always highly synthetic rubberized foods, often for window displays.
If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Generally the people whom I consider artistic or intellectual heroes are people that I don’t feel I want to meet. I may be wrong, and probably am, but I am afraid to jeopardize my personal relationship with their work by knowing them. George Bataille would be one person I would have liked to have seen physically, but I would have preferred it if he had been sitting at a table in a café where I could observe him, rather than actually having to sit down and have a conversation with him. We share the same birthday, as well as an egg fetish.
If you weren’t an artist what would your gig be?
If I could separate the means and the end result, I’m sad to say I’d probably be in advertising. I have an ever-growing repulsion to advertising at every level, but particularly the way it has affected public space, that everything we touch, see, smell is branded and screaming some message at you. My own work is full of messages that don’t offer any kind of end product. I work with complicated narrative histories that begin with my interest in a particular notion or moment in time, and expand into larger stories that I perform or create settings for. In architecture school students are taught a similar language to advertising. Even with fictive architectural proposals, students are encouraged to “sell” the building or to think about clients. It was in architecture school that I began to be interested in this language of presentation, a language that is constantly trying to promote something without quite knowing why. In architecture there is no such thing as an object for the sake of it without having a promotional attitude behind it. I find it interesting in the sense that props and objects in everyday life become part of a grander narrative that could be about the global economy, something politically motivated or simply something to satisfy a client. I could see the worst part of myself, the evil twin version of myself, in architecture PR.
Have you ever run out of money?
Yes, on Friday I bought a fur coat and ran out of money.
What’s your favorite tool?
A tape-measure. I’m always happy to see one, and they are almost always nicely designed.
Simon Fujiwara’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf is part of two days of events in conjunction with the exhibition The Air We Breathe, which focuses on marriage equality. On Thursday Now Playing took over the museum. Today, Simon’s performance is preceded by a panel discussion on marriage equality with Paul Boneberg, Cleve Jones, Jennifer C. Pizer, Andrea Shorter, Camilla Taylor, and Thomas Watson.
Occupy Wall Street: It Ain’t Over Yet
People always clap for the wrong things. — Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, in Chapter 12
Although I am living in New York I still follow the news on SFGate, KQED, KGO, and other news outlets. What has surprised me is how completely wrong Bay Area media has been about the Occupy Wall Street movement, its motivations, its strategy, and its tactics. In particular, how occupying a park is a TACTIC in the overall STRATEGY to draw attention to the corruption and greed in the system. Important distinction — Tactics vs. Strategy! Besides being confused, the coverage in the Bay Area has been so negative and bizarre, it seems like Fox News is whispering in their ear. That interests me because criticizing Fox News has been a kind of preoccupation of mine for the past two months.
Case in point: at Occupy Wall Street last month I watched postmodern philosopher Slavoj Žižek delivering a passionate speech to the protesters gathered on the steps of Zuccotti Park. After his speech he saw I was making fun of a Fox News reporter, and so he approached me. In his tense, rapid manner, he explained how Glenn Beck was the best thing that had ever happened to Fox News and that Beck expressed Fox’s vision so clearly that they just had to fire him. The danger, Žižek said, was that Beck’s facade was so pure that it became his own real identity. That, in turn, meant that it was harder and harder for Fox to pretend they were really a news organization and not an arm of the Republican party, simply parroting right-wing talking points. And then he ran off into the crowd.
Then yesterday, almost exactly a month later, New York City police officers demolished the camp at Occupy Wall Street, and Fox News went on the war path. Their attitude on television was essentially this: Finally, all the dirty hippie protesters were being thrown out. Finally. Good riddance.
If all you knew about Occupy Wall Street was from mainstream media sources, maybe GOOD RIDDANCE seemed like a fair thing to say — even if it was opinion, and not, in fact, news. Fox even went so far as to use the term GOOD RIDDANCE (all capital letters) as an infographic over footage of the police tearing down tents, throwing books in Dumpsters, and cutting down trees to which some protesters had chained themselves. So as I watched this venomous “news coverage” on TV, it made me think of what Žižek had said — of how the media depends on maintaining an air of legitimacy for it not to be viewed as just some political sideshow.
But then, that’s what media and politics are all about, isn’t it — the battle for the appearance of legitimacy and who is the most real. Take away the appearance of authenticity and nobody will listen to what you say. It’s problematic because secret motivations drive so much in society right now, especially in the media and the power structure — financial interests, political interests, etc. And it’s getting harder and harder to know what is real and what is not. Fox News President Roger Ailes has even admitted on multiple occasions that Fox views itself as a partisan political operation. So why does that matter? Because news is supposed to inform the public, not lie to it.
But on top of the media empire (Fox is just one part of it) is Rupert Murdoch, who happens to own Fox News and its affiliated organizations. One such organization was News of the World in Great Britain. News of the World was recently shut down because it came out that some of the staff had been bribing police to obtain access to the voice mailboxes of prominent politicians, celebrities, and private citizens. Apparently this had been going on for years. The phone hacking scandal, as it became known, caused the British prime minister’s communications director, Andy Caulson, to resign, as he had been editor of News of the World before his appointment. Then, on July 17, just two months before Occupy Wall Street began, the head of Scotland Yard — Britain’s most senior police officer — Sir Paul Stephenson, announced his resignation because he had hired another News of the World editor as an “advisor.” Numerous other News of the World editors and staff were arrested, and the reporter who leaked the story, Sean Hoare, was found dead on July 18 in his apartment. His death is still unexplained.
So when I saw that coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been mostly negative, I wasn’t surprised. Looking at how News of the World, its editors, staff, and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, have broken the law repeatedly and colluded with police to get personal data and access to private records, well, what else are they capable of? I mean, if your organization is willing to bribe police, what else is out of bounds? Surely Fox and other news media wouldn’t deliberately try to smear a legitimate grassroots movement opposing such things as financial industry corruption, media corruption and bias, and political corruption. No, of course not, the news is always fair and balanced.
The Lunch Break Times
Artist Sharon Lockhart reflects on the presence of the individual in the context of industrial labor through film, photography, and printed matter. For Lunch Break (2008) she spent a year at a naval shipbuilding plant in Maine, and the exhibition — now on view — examines the workers’ activities during their time off from production. SFMOMA is also distributing Lockhart’s newspaper, The Lunch Break Times, which relates stories about labor and lunch breaks. Every Wednesday, at NOON, we’re posting one of the articles here.……………………………………………………..
SHARON LOCKHART: Lunch Break ~ ~
Rudolf Frieling, SFMOMA curator of media arts
Newspapers these days seem to be for our daily 20-minute bus or train commutes, or for those too-long waits at the bus stop or train station. Or for our lunch breaks. Sure, some people still read actual newspapers, but most of us now feed our notoriously short attention spans by constantly checking our smartphones. There’s no denying that the end of the newspaper as we know it is nearing. But as the newspaper is increasingly becoming obsolete, the Los Angeles–based artist Sharon Lockhart has decided to take a closer look at this medium.
The free copies of the newspaper Lunch Break Times are an extension of the exhibition Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break. Lockhart and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a fine art museum located in a city that has cut almost all of its ties to its industrial past, including its legendary steel and shipping industry, share with many of the collaborators a desire to understand better what happened to the region’s industrial labor force, what cultures have emerged, what fights were fought, and what rights were gained. The right to a lunch break is a crucial one in this context. To this end, the artist has composed a wonderful menu of voices, stories, and images in a spirit of collaboration and generosity.
In 2008 Lockhart began a long-term collaboration with the workers of Bath Iron Works, an historic shipyard in Bath, Maine (although Lockhart was born in Massachusetts, she spent much of her childhood in Maine, and her family still lives there). Over the course of one year, she interacted with the workers and gained their trust and collaboration. From this experience, she produced a series of works which include the film Lunch Break, the centerpiece of our exhibition; a series of photographs; an artist book titled Lunch Break, featuring selections from an archive of images she compiled; and the newspaper Lunch Break Times. For the SFMOMA exhibition, Lockhart has created a new edition with a Bay Area twist. It’s a paper not only for your lunch break, but about the lunch break. You’ll find a treasure trove of facts, stories, and even recipes, as well as images, about the lunch break that paints a larger picture of this workday ritual without trying to generate history with a capital H. At the end of the day, we don’t care about capitalized terms like History. We care more about the small things, the individual struggles with being employed or unemployed, the stories of how others cope with the constant change of the working environment — especially here in the Bay Area, which is home to many of the revolutions of the networked society. How does the industrial past of the Bay Area inform our contemporary everyday life? In both the Lunch Break Times and the exhibition itself, Lockhart encourages you to resist the economy of short attention spans by taking your time to read and to take a closer look. In these times of accelerated global electronic communication, Lockhart thus reclaims an older, traditional mode of keeping you informed and entertained. And while the museum has always been part of this electronic revolution — for example, by starting our own “e-space” for online exhibitions as early as 2001 — we, too, think that it’s time to uncover what has been pushed to the side, marginalized, and deemed irrelevant for a master course in art history. This concern, exemplified by Lockhart’s unsentimental yet deeply humane attention to the local and focus on the rarely portrayed experience of the working class, takes on a particular social and political relevance in the context of contemporary global capitalism, war, and economic recession.
Not coincidentally, Lockhart has chosen to feature on the back page of this paper edition of the Lunch Break Times a photograph of Richmond shipyard workers leaving the factory. This iconic picture symbolizes the achievements of a movement for better working conditions, slightly romanticized by the glistening sun and soft embrace of the Bay Area fog in the background. It is a picture full of references to the iconography of economic and political struggles, even though no actual political fight is depicted: we simply see workers leaving the factory after a day’s work during World War II. This photograph reminds me of iconic images that mark the turn of the century and the political struggles that peaked a few decades later, such as the famous painting Il Quarto Stato (1901) from the Museo del Novecento in Milan, which was immortalized by Bernardo Bertolucci in his epic film 1900, and, of course, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, filmed by Auguste and Louis Lumière in 1895. This film is generally considered the beginning of the motion picture industry, and Lockhart acknowledges the impact of this history in her own film Exit. From the history of painting that blends into the history of film to a history of film that is translated back into the painterly still lifes in her photographs and film Lunch Break — indeed, in almost all of her work — Lockhart tries to understand how a site relates to people and vice versa, reconnecting us to a deeper recognition of what it means to inhabit a space, whether it’s the Bath Iron Works, the woods of northern California (Pine Flat), the low-tide clam flats of Maine (Double Tide), or the courtyards of a Polish city (Podworka). Time stands still, and yet it moves, filling our time with a sense of place that is a unique and up-close look at how people work and live.
Rudolf Frieling joined the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2006 as curator of media arts, coming from ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany. At SFMOMA he curated the group shows In Collaboration: Works From the Media Arts Collection, The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now, and Longplay: Bruce Conner and the Singles Collection, as well as monographic shows by Candice Breitz and David Claerbout, among others. He also teaches as adjunct professor at the California College of Art and the San Francisco Art Institute.
Letter from Yvonne Rainer to Jeffrey Deitch
After observing a rehearsal, I am writing to protest the “entertainment” about to be provided by Marina Abramović at the upcoming donor gala at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where a number of young people’s live heads will be rotating as decorative centerpieces at diners’ tables and others — all women — will be required to lie perfectly still in the nude for over three hours under fake skeletons, also as centerpieces surrounded by diners.
On the face of it the above description might strike one as reminiscent of Salo, Pasolini’s controversial film of 1975 that dealt with sadism and sexual abuse of a group of adolescents at the hands of a bunch of postwar fascists. Though it is hard to watch, Pasolini’s film has a socially credible justification tied to the cause of anti-fascism. Abramović and MoCA have no such credibility — and I am speaking of this event itself, not of Abramović’s work in general — only a questionable personal rationale about the beauty of eye contact and the transcendence of artists’ suffering.
At the rehearsal the fifty heads — all young, beautiful, and mostly white — turning and bobbing out of holes as their bodies crouched beneath the otherwise empty tables, appeared touching and somewhat comic, but when I tried to envision 800 inebriated diners surrounding them, I had another impression. I myself have never been averse to occasional epatering of the bourgeoisie. However, I can’t help feeling that subjecting her performers to possible public humiliation and bodily injury from the three-hour endurance test at the hands of a bunch of frolicking donors is yet another example of the Museum’s callousness and greed and Ms. Abramović’s obliviousness to differences in context and some of the implications of transposing her own powerful performances to the bodies of others. An exhibition is one thing — again, this is not a critique of Abramović’s work in general — but titillation for wealthy donor/diners as a means of raising money is another.
Ms. Abramović is so wedded to her original vision that she — and by extension, the Museum director and curators — doesn’t see the egregious associations for the performers, who, though willing, will be exploited nonetheless. Their cheerful voluntarism says something about the pervasive desperation and cynicism of the art world such that young people must become abject table ornaments and clichéd living symbols of mortality in order to assume a novitiate role in the temple of art.
This grotesque spectacle promises to be truly embarrassing. I and the undersigned wish to express our dismay that an institution that we have supported can stoop to such degrading methods of fund raising. Can other institutions be far behind? Must we re-name MoCA “MOUFR” or the Museum of Unsavory Fund Raising?
A. L. Steiner
Ginger Brooks Takahashi