Adventures in San Francisco

30 Oct

Dear All,

After my first few days in San Francisco, I began to set up meetings with local colleagues and to visit some of the different museums and galleries here; meanwhile CCA and the students helped me discover many fascinating programs as well.

One of them was a lecture by Matei Bejenaru, an artist, curator, and the initiator of the Periferic Biennial in Romania (http://www.periferic.org). We knew each other from before, and after the lecture we went to dinner with some CCA faculty members: Elizabeth Thomas, Joanna Szupinska, and Julian Myers. (See all of them here: http://www.cca.edu/academics/graduate/curatorial-practice/faculty.) The balanced proportion of US and Central and/or Eastern European people around the table (Joanna is from L.A but has Polish origins) led to a very interesting discussion about the current climate in our countries and the structure and tendencies of the art fields as well.

We also talked about several artists from the region. As a consequence I was invited to participate in Julian Myers’s class the next day where he screened a video work by Artur Zmijewski. I truly enjoyed his ‘Curatorial Critique’ class–it was very productive, and I was impressed again by the lively discussion and sharp, critical thinking of the students. It seemed that my obviously different perspective on an Eastern European artist  was interesting for them to learn more about as well .

Because the structure of my program is quite free here, I can decide how to spend my time based on my own interest. Naturally I discuss my ideas with Leigh, who provides me with many suggestions and connects me with people. I absolutely like this freedom, and have been organizing lots of individual meetings and visits – I am sometimes even a bit overambitious with the scheduling here, but I wish to get the most out of these 5 weeks. (More about these individual meetings in my next post!)

In addition to all this, the students invite me to different programs which we attend together in smaller groups of 3 or 4. These programs vary from museum visits to excursions to the mountains. What is common in them is that they provide a very informal atmosphere, and this facilitates more relaxed, personalized, and deeper exchanges with them. Here are the students profiles: http://curatorial-practice.blogs.cca.edu/?page_id=5

Lorain, a first-year student, introduced me the CCA campus and the Wattis Institue, and we also had an accidental studio visit at an MFA student’s studio. Lorain is from Phoenix and is primarily interested in site-specific installations, light and sound installations, so I mentioned Ana’s work to her.

Leila and two French students, Marion and Pierre-Francois, took me to the De Young museum http://deyoung.famsf.org/ in the Golden Gate Park. Together with the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, this is the largest public arts institution in the City of San Francisco. Its new building opened in 2005 and was designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron. It well worth having a look at the photo!

During this visit we learned a lot from Leila, who is from Texas, about  American art and her collaboration with Creative Time. Connected to the museum’s modernist exhibition,http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/exhibitions/william-s-paley-collection-taste-modernism Marion explained her view on the French modernists, while the Danny Lyon show triggered an exchange on documentary photography and photographers with Hungarian origins like Brassai, Robert Capa, André Kertész, and Martin Munkácsi. See more about the show here: http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/exhibitions/world-not-my-home-photographs-danny-lyon

The outdoor Sculpture Garden of the museum houses works by Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg among others. Our favorite was definitely James Turrell’s site-specific installation. http://deyoung.famsf.org/about/site-specific-art-commissioned-de-young

Later we walked a bit around the Golden Gate Park http://www.golden-gate-park.com/, which hosts the Academy of Sciences. Its cutting-edge building is considered to be one of the greenest museums in the world! http://www.golden-gate-park.com/academy-of-sciences.html I have to visit it next time!

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