November 05, 2013

SECA 2012: Jonn Herschend on Stories from the Evacuation

For the first time in the history of SFMOMA’s biennial award program honoring Bay Area artists, the museum has commissioned the four recipients of the 2012 SECA Art Award to create work outside the traditional gallery context. Their site-responsive projects appear in a number of locations around the Bay Area; Jonn Herschend’s film Stories from the Evacuation can be seen at

Jonn Herschend’s Stories from the Evacuation was filmed in SFMOMA’s offices and other back-of-house spaces, so when our Interpretive Media team was looking for a location to interview him a colleague’s empty office seemed perfect. Jonn has appropriated the workplace aesthetic — including power point presentations and corporate films — in previous works, and he seemed delighted to have the opportunity to inhabit the role of a busy man working at his desk.

As Jonn’s film demonstrates, every back-of-house environment is full of characters, narratives, personal dramas. During our interview, Jonn was one of those characters, playfully riffing on the things he found on the desk and switching the color pen he was holding “for continuity.”

“I work in here a lot, and I have a lot of files that I need to go through. And I answer the phone occasionally. I’m very busy,” Jonn quipped. Just another day at the office.

Follow our SECA 2012 series here. See Jonn Herschend and the other SECA artists November 13 – November 17 as they talk with Michelle Tea at SFJAZZ. Herschend will also be screening Stories from the Evacuation along with Alex Karpovsky’s Red Flag the Roxie. Learn more at

Comments (1)

  • This is awesome. What could be more postmodern that a film commissioned by a museum about the literal deconstruction of the museum itself? It reminds me of Truffaut’s Day for Night, Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo and of course, Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. It will also be an excellent historical record of the things that are generally invisible. John is so great at pulling together literary and film references to make something that speaks about the moment we’re actually in. it’s not an understatement at all to say we are in the moment of pulling back the curtain.

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