Conceiving Place // In Coversation with Mabel Negrete at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

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When: Friday, August 7, 2015 
Time: 5:00pm7:30pm
Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Front Door Gallery
As a culmination of the public programming associated with the current Room for Big Ideas project, Conceiving Place, Bay Area-based writer Dorothy Santos will be in conversation with Mabel Negrete on her work and ask questions that focus on social practice, defining place, current social and political climates, as well as how the project has evolved since its inception. The conversation will be for one hour between artist and writer and 15–30 minutes of facilitated Q&A.The evening’s program will open with a ceremonial workshop led by Khalil Anthony: SONGS FROM PLANET ZERO
Join artist Khalil Anthony on a voyage in creation and song creation. Through this interactive workshop, participants will breathe together, and create music with only their bodies and voices as instruments. Learn to use your inherent rhythm and beat making ability to conjure songs as a group and by yourself, in this improvisational based workshop that pull songs from Planet Zero; a mythical place where all things are possible, as long as imagination and vulnerability meet.From writer Dorothy Santos – “We all carry the burden of punishment in our everyday lives. But at the economic, social, and cultural level, these burdens remain invisible. Whether they are through the taxes we pay perpetuating the prison industrial complex to surveillance technologies, we live in a world where we are unable to truly navigate away from digital and physical landscapes withoutconsequence. MabelNegrete coined the term ‘invisible punishing machines’ as a response to narratives around imprisonment, political oppression, and systems of government. Her work relies on vulnerability, storytelling, and experiential practices that have resulted in works such as The Weight I Carry with Me (2010 – Ongoing) to her founding the research initiative Counter Narrative Society (CNS). The breadth of her work has served as an impactful project that aims to reverse dominant narratives that diminish the untold and often obscured stories of underrepresented and vulnerable populations.”See the entire August 2015 workshop schedule at http://thinkeringschool.sparkmakers.org/july-aug-2015-thinkering-activities/Part of the exhibition, Conceiving Place:

Through a series of public workshops, Conceiving Place will engage the Bay Area community in a conversation about our personal and societal narratives; ultimately turning the weight we individually carry into a communal work. This ever-evolving installation will also frequently include “hands on, minds on” experiences. See more at http://ybca.org/conceiving-place

Artist Mabel Negrete, the founder of Counter Narrative Society (CNS), is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture, and technology. Her project The Weight I Carry with Me is a reaction to the invisible punishing machine, an idiomatic, science fiction-esque research concentration she designed to examine the spatial and technological causes that produce inequality and invisible punishment — a consequence of mass imprisonment, political persecution of individuals, the prison-welfare system, urbanization, neoliberal policies, and social-urban control in the USA. She is a recipient of several recognitions including MIT Presidential Award 2009-2010 and MIT Architecture Department Fellowship 2009-2011, Zellerbach Family Foundation & W.A. Gerbode Foundation 2006, and Osher Memorial Merit Scholarship – San Francisco Art Institute 2003-2006. Her work has been presented in a variety of public spaces and cultural institutions: Boston City Hall, MA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA; Art of this Gallery, MI; De Young Museum, CA, The Intersection for the Arts, CA; Galleria de la Raza, CA; Primo Piano Living Gallery, Lecce Italy; New College of California, CA; San Francisco World Affairs Counsel, SF; and University of San Francisco, CA.

Speaking on a panel at Open City Art City at YBCA! #opencities2025

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FREE with RSVP: http://opencityartcity.tumblr.com/

Open City/Art City Festival
October 4, 2014
YBCA, 701 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94113
11am – 8pm

For those who want the specific details of the panel I will be participating on, here you go!

Artful Models: Creative Solutions to Our Changing Industry (YAAW Lounge at 7:00 PM)
Moderated by Rhiannon MacFayden, Founder, A Simple Collective

Artists are tinkerers, rebuilders, inverters, and the do-it-yourselfers. Historically, artists have also been socioeconomic “canaries”—the first (vocal) casualties of financial and political wind-shifts. As our economies and communities change, and we continue to hemorrhage local artists, beloved nonprofits, and established galleries, creative “artrepreneurs” are finding new models to keep the industry, and their vision, thriving. We’ll ask some of these nimble innovators about their view of the current climate and what they’re doing to create solutions to our art-world problems.

Panelists:

  • Danielle Siembieda-Gribben, The Art Inspector: from performance to business
  • Dorothy Santos, Grey Area Foundation: Discussing their big changes and why
  • Noah Weinstein, Autodesk Artist Residency: A symbiotic model for supporting artists while building technology
  • Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen, A Simple Collective + ASC Projects: An experiment in hybrid gallery models
  • Tim Roseborough, Artist “Meta-Practice”, art through marketing/marketing through art

Craving more information about #opencities2015? Check out the details of the event and learn more about the partnering organizations below! 

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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and The Institute for the Future (IFTF) are teaming up to engage the public through a creative and generative weekend that looks at how we transform a city. The weekend consists of IFTF’s Maker Cities’ Conference (Oct. 3) and the Open City/Art City Festival (Oct. 4). Through a vibrant mix of art installations, speakers, participatory activities, performances, music, food, and play, IFTF and YBCA invite the Bay Area community to imagine how we can build a city that is more open, creative and inclusive.

The Open City/Art City Festival seeks to leverage the essential role we all play in civic life and the future of our city. We want to explore the infrastructures, assets, and places needed within cities locally and globally to enable access to artistic exploration, inspiration, participation, collaboration, and opportunity.

The Festival provides a unique occasion to connect with some of the most progressive leaders in the Bay Area who are on the forefront of socially engaged enterprises in the arts, the public sector, urban design, and technology. Join us in uniting our diverse communities together to help frame generative dialogue, identify opportunities for collaboration, community engagement, collaborative design of our public spaces, and inclusive, citizen-centered city models.

As dialogue, connectivity, advocacy, storytelling, and cross-disciplinary innovation are increasingly woven into projects produced by artists and civic technologists, the boundaries between passive and active participant are diminished in lieu of a civic-minded and interdependent community. We hope that by providing a venue for stakeholders and community members to facilitate discussion, we can amplify the broad range of perspectives that comprise our city, and inspire new ways to shape the future. We are truly excited to help foster new, resilient connections in the community and facilitate mutually beneficial relationships across disciplines and industries in the Bay Area. And more to come!

ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS

Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit strategic research group with over 46 years of forecasting experience. Our mission is to help organizations, communities, and individuals think systematically about the future. We pioneer tools and methods for building foresight and insight to drive more informed and thoughtful action today. IFTF is based in Palo Alto, California.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) was founded in 1993 out of an expressed need for an accessible, high-profile San Francisco venue devoted to contemporary visual art, performance, and film/video representing diverse cultural and artistic perspectives. Distinguished by its support for contemporary artists from around the world, YBCA is also recognized for the important role the organization plays in the San Francisco Bay Area arts ecology and in the community at large. From its award-winning youth arts and activism job training program, Young Artists at Work, to the acclaimed triennial Bay Area Now multidisciplinary arts festival, YBCA has established its leadership role as a champion of living artists working in the Bay Area.

TOPICS INCLUDE

• Systems of Support and Strengthened Infrastructures for Vibrant Arts and Culture
• Uniting Civic Technology with Arts Civic Practice
• Digital Divide, Inclusive Technology Movement
• “Re-engineering” the Relationship between Art and Technology in the Bay Area
• Maker Cities – The “Maker Mindset” to the Complex urban challenges of health, education, food, and citizenship
• Economic Shifts and Gaps – Addressing Equity – Changes in Neighborhoods and its Impacts
• Public and Private Partnerships – Leveraging New Resources and Capital

Beyond the Studio: What Do Artists/Writers/Curators Need? by Christian L. Frock

Please take some time to visit KQED Arts today. I am honored to be included in Christian L. Frock‘s piece “Beyond the Studio: What do Artists/Writers/Curators Need?” I highly encourage reading through the thoughtful responses from members of the arts community such as Anuradha VikramMegan WilsonChristine Wong YapElizabeth TravelslightMatthew Harrison TedfordTaraneh HemamiMatt Sussman, and Rhiannon E MacFadyen. It would be great for you, dear reader, to answer the question as well by leaving a comment.

Trust me, it’s a great conversation and much-needed. Lastly, I agree with Christian when she says, “Figuring out what artists need isn’t complicated — start by listening.”

Asterisk SF Magazine Music Issue + Art Opening for David Molina

Hello Family and Friends!

I am curating a solo exhibition for musician, composer, and artist David Molina. He is featured in the upcoming issue of Asterisk SF Magazine. The show will be wonderful and it is his first gallery exhibition in San Francisco. With over 17 years of composing, music and instrument making, sound installation work, and theatrical production work, we are extremely happy and excited about his upcoming show. Please read the curatorial statement below and join us on January 17, 2013 from 7-10 pm!!

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Join us for our first event of 2013 in celebration of the Music Issue and the opening of Transience: The Work of David Molina. An exhibit on the art of sound.

CURATORIAL STATEMENT
Transience provides a retrospective look at David Molina’s theatrical scores and music compositions as well as his collaborative works with Bay Area artists including Garrett La Fever, Mickey Tachibana, Cause Collective, Susie Valdez, Victor Cartagena, Violeta Luna, Roberto Varea, and Anna Geyer. The exhibition presents existing and new interactive works such as Memory Web, which showcased at the 2012 San Francisco Fine Art Fair. For this particular exhibition, Molina will be presenting his latest interactive work, Rusting Souls, which entailed a deconstructing and reconstructing of the Cimbalom, an instrument originally from eastern Europe.

Spanning Molina’s installation works to a comprehensive discography, Transience assembles a collection of intricately re-imagined instruments, such as Homage to Musee Mecanique: A Game Of Time, The Chimes of Seven Spells, The Broken Heart Sings, a plethora of parts pieced together to create a multifaceted and unique experience of sound.

Hearing has the capacity to command our being by forcing us to listen and understand the world. The imagination works in conjunction with sound allowing us to envision our environment or awaken a long obscured tale. The works in Transience seek to envelop the listener into narratives and a tactile experience of music. With no specific starting point other than the listener, the exhibition emerges as a study of contemporary music making and how stories can be told through beautifully and meticulously strung notes by the artist-musician’s hand. Transience is an examination of how music affects our understanding of personal histories and interactions as well as our perceptions of sound.

– Dorothy Santos, Arts Editor + Curator

From Scottsdale: This is a Present from a Small Distant World Shotgun Review in Art Practical’s 4.1 Shotgun Issue

New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein. This is a Present from a Small Distant World, 2012; installation view. Courtesy of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

The New Catalogue artist collective, composed of Mary Voorhees Meehan, Neil Donnelly, Jonathan Sadler, and Luke Batten, collaborated with composer Judd Greenstein to explore humanity, history, memory, space, and the unknown in their exhibition This is a Present from a Small Distant World: New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. When viewers first enter the exhibition space, the large-scale installation is enclosed by two parallel white walls covered with friendly messages written in black bold sans serif type. Multicolored light boxes illuminate printed words such as “coffee,” “vinyl cutter,” “advice from a family member,” “string cheese,” and “twenty books.” These are only a small fraction of the humorous, endearing, and poignant answers to questions about communication with extraterrestrial beings.

Walking through the red carpeted interior of the makeshift corridor, flat-screen monitors pose questions to the public. Classical music permeates the space. Between the exposed, unpainted, raw wooden beams, questions on newsprint paper invite viewers to participate in an analog discussion. Some of the questions include “What are ten things aliens would need to see/taste/touch/experience to understand life on earth?“; “Which five songs would you bring to space so alien life could understand us?”; and “What do you imagine aliens are like?” Answers to that last question included “Lady Gaga,” “Nikki Minaj,” and “Michael Jackson,” suggesting that some of the most colorful human beings in the public eye are the most foreign and otherworldly.

These human observations ask us to consider what would happen if we could transmit and receive communication with alien life. Based on the posted responses, possibilities range from humankind’s greatest accomplishments in the arts and sciences to the sharing of radical and pointed views about our political and social state. The responses also speak to something deeper and more existential. New Catalogue and Greenstein have created a work that reminds viewers of the qualities philosophers and scientists have posited separate humans from other species: the ability to introspect, activate memory, and create awareness.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

Question Bridge: Black Males Exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California

Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas. Question Bridge (still), 2011; video installation. Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California, Oakland. – Photo Caption

The opening of Question Bridge: Black Males (2011), a new-media work by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis, is a timely response to events like Trayvon Martin’s death and the Oscar Grant case. By mimicking a roundtable discussion, Question Bridge excavates and delves into issues around the notion of the African American male, forcing participants and viewers across the spectrum of human experience to witness a thought-provoking exchange.

Originally, Johnson began the Question Bridge project in 1996 in order to address concerns regarding divisions within the San Diego African American community.1 Close to a decade later, Willis approached Johnson about collaborating, which resulted in interviews gathered from black men in different cities across the United States.2 The work consists of one hundred fifty videotaped black males from a diverse range of demographics (age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation, to name a few), answering questions about violence, health, intelligence, masculinity, education, fears, lifestyles, and sexuality. The installation speaks directly to the collective consciousness, for although there’s never an easy time or place to discuss race relations, posing questions around the topics of race, gender, and cultural amnesia feels especially urgent.

Johnson and Willis asked participants to provide questions as well as answer questions from other participants. In response to a vehement question about the code of the streets, the answers vacillate between the prevalent street mentality that silence is the ultimate code to anger and frustration that young black men perpetuate the cycle of violence. For some of the younger participants, respecting the unspoken commandment of the streets—in the belief that “the streets will take care of that” with “that” being the violence inflicted or received from an assailant—is common and strictly observed.3

Yet, as others noted, the code of the streets is a mere “set of playground rules” that some may or may not grow out of to deal with the complexities of violence and power struggles found within a disenfranchised community. All of the men speak of solidarity but are unaware of how to bridge the differences that exist between them.

The editing of the video footage makes it appear as though men on separate screens are looking at one another as they pose and answer questions. Each of the speakers seems to express genuine and sincere interest in listening to and addressing the questions of his interlocutors. The illusion that these men are in discussion together, in the same physical space, makes the artwork less of a physical object and more of a glimpse into the experiences of African American males and the issues and concerns often obscured by the media, silenced by culture, or cloaked by hyper-masculinity.

The nearly pitch-black installation space and editing of the videos also implicate us as witnesses as we listen to these conversations between men. As we wait for a question and answer, our heads might slowly turn from screen to screen, as if watching the trajectory of a ball in mid-flight. These gestures echo the connecting of complex ideas and thoughts between and among the participants.

Despite the power and effectiveness of the work, it would nonetheless be advantageous to expand the scope of the Question Bridge project. Participants identifying themselves as gay or queer were certainly incorporated into the discussion and, understandably, the work focuses on African American male experiences. However, the absence of African American transgendered men suggests another aspect of the male experience that remains concealed from the public. This lack of representation certainly does not make the work deficient, but it  raises the question of how American culture defines the male experience.

Indeed, what happens in the space between the participants serves to remind the viewer that the archetypal black male is nonexistent. One participant’s question, “What is common to all of us?” provokes a flurry of answers. Though the participants’ commonalities overlap time, space, sex, gender, color, beliefs, and much more, a more significant commonality emerges from their responses. These men are willing and ready for engagement. All that they needed was for someone to ask the question.

QUESTION BRIDGE: BLACK MALES IS ON VIEW AT THE OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA THROUGH JULY 8.

Originally posted to Art Practical, please click here

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NOTES:

1. “About Question Bridge,” Question Bridge website,http://questionbridge.com/index.php/about.

2. Ibid.

3. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the interviewees in the artwork.