The San Francisco Worlds Fair of 2007,
organized by the California College of the Arts
MA Curatorial Practice class of 2007.
Thoughts by Jessica Silverman, one of the eleven curators.
At its core, The San Francisco Worlds Fair of 2007 is a 12-hour contemporary art event with a mandate to make contemporary art accessible, while stimulating dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on the public space of the Third Street Corridor. What struck me when I sat down to write about The San Francisco Worlds Fair of 2007 was: Can art can change your mind? It has been my experience that it cannot. However, during this particular event it could, since the conversation being conducted was on the terrain in which the conversation was about. Real land was being walked over and walked on and when things happened face to face in addition to being represented something truly unique took shape.
City spaces and neighborhoods were transformed into temporary exhibitions. According to The San Francisco Worlds Fair map, the 6th stop, Natalie Jeremijenko hosted a “health clinic” but not in the usual sense of the word. The clinic was for environmental issues that effect health and daily life. Approaching the tent a million thoughts stream through my head and one in front of Jeremijenko I utter the obvious, pollution, toxic air etc. As Jeremijenko explained, “when you come to my health clinic you bring an environmental concern and instead of leaving with a prescription you leave with a task or option to confront the issue at hand.” Warm water cove, otherwise known as Tire Beach or Toxic Park is home to DIY punk shows, community members and scavengers. In this instance, and others, unusual or forbidden spaces become sites for a series of related actions. And what might you ask linked all of these actions together? The relations involved all of the things that you would expect from art: aesthetics, images, formal issue, spatial relationships and ideas, concepts and language.
The San Francisco World’s Fair of 2007 engages with a local debate, the opening of the city's new Third Street Light Rail system with international discussions on the problems of technological progress and urban development and in this case, its desire to connect the residents of several disparate communities to San Francisco. For the duration of The San Francisco Worlds Fair of 2007, a part of the city is subject to and the subject of the artists, local organizations and the California College of the Arts' MA Curatorial Practice class of 2007.
The California College of the Arts' MA Curatorial Practice class chose the people to which we gave the platform to and together we shaped the conversations and debates that happened in the larger context. Poppa Neutrino sat at Warm Water Cove telling his stories, anecdotes and dreams that were later seen at Cyclone Art Center in full effect through his new documentary, Random Lunacy. Addressing the art public was however not the challenge so when unanticipated dialogue and encounters occurred it was productive and unusual for such an un-spectacular event. As Diana Ross’ voice wafted outside of the Bayview Opera House and onto the streets, intrigued passerbies were pleasantly surprised encountering William Scott and his imaginative drawings of San Francisco. The fair left visitors with a sense of inquiry about wanting to know more about the area, the range of sites and in retrospect, further historical information could have been offered to visitors who rarely cross over Market on Third Street. Navigating the fair, which was all off of or on Third Street became more prominent than the works that were there. One of the most commendable and enticing afternoons were those created by the hard-core, “no rain can stop me” art aficionados. The fair dealt with real-life situations such as unexpected rain, slow public transportation and closed coffee shops but operated in the art world for the art world and in art situations.
The connecting element between many of the different artistic examinations reflects the tradition of World’s Fairs grand scope. Though the history of World’s Fairs was the driving force behind each work put forth at the various sites at The San Francisco World's Fair of 2007 begs the question: What could art bring in this context and for whom in this kind of public? Rather than serving as a platform for thinking about the celebration of change and mobility and as way of looking at the areas future The San Francisco World’s Fair accomplished much more. The fair brought together some of the different cultures along the Third Street Corridor that are habitually isolated. It gave a realization of just how big the area is and how the fair remained pretty much invisible if your were not fully involved in the exhibition. Psychically viewers were at a world’s fair as well as conceptually at a world’s fair and yet it did not really feel like at a world’s fair! Together the curators, artists and organizations managed to engage with a complex and disparate set of places, sites, people, histories to such an extent that at the end of the day it didn’t matter that “this wasn’t a worlds fair.”
Curators include Mike Bianco, Erin Elder, Julia Hamilton, Grace Kook-Anderson, Shasha Liu, Cara Lewis, Allegra Madsen, Jessica Silverman, Zoe Taleporos, Kuniko Vroman, Nancy Zastudil and Will Bradley, Instructor
Artists include Kyu Che, Daniel Cheek, Kevin Epps, Amy Franceschini, Pablo Helguera, Natalie Jeremijenko, Neighborhood Public Radio (NPR), Poppa Neutrino/Floating Neutrino, William Pope.L, William Scott, Sergio De La Torre and Vicky Funari with the Aeromad Pavillion (The SFWF Hub) presented by Alexis Rochas
And Bio-diesel transportation provided by Teacher with a Bus.
For full bios and further information please see www.sfworldsfair.org
Jessica Silverman is a recent graduate of the MA Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of Arts as well as owner and director of Silverman Gallery, San Francisco. She has taken part in a Curatorial Residency at the Frankfurter Kunstverein the summer of 2006. As an independent curator she has recently produced International Waters co-curated by artist Soo Kim for StevenWolfGallery, San Francisco and is working on exhibitions with curators Mizuki Endo and whitehot NYC contributor Jan Van Woensel. In 2008, Silverman and Passenger Books will publish Leaving the Library a catalogue of conversations.
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