Currently, there are many issues involving immigration happening around the world. Right now our nation is undergoing the mass deportation of many people from different countries and cultures. We hope to provide this opportunity for our viewers to help them obtain a better understanding of their own identity and further understand how their identities tie into the identities of others.
The theme of our exhibition is cultural exploration. This exhibition relates to SF MOMA’s mission statement because it will help inspire diverse audiences by giving them a chance to witness both their own stories and their peers’ stories being expressed and told. Throughout our exhibition, viewers will be able to make connections and empathize with the people of their own cultural backgrounds as well as others. We as young curators plan to make this opportunity possible for our audience by including artwork from different cultures around the world that tells stories that allow the viewers to embrace and learn about the cultural values of their own background as well as the cultural values of the members of their community.
We aim to immerse as many people from different backgrounds to their own and/or other people’s culture and allow them to have a cultural exploration experience. We want to go beyond the typical tourist itinerary and make it possible for our visitors to experience unique places and cultures by engaging to a thoughtful yet enjoyable experience in the museum. We hope to broaden viewers horizon with in-depth explorations of different types of cultural values and traditions from around the world. We want to give our audience the opportunity to dive deeper into place and culture through a better understanding of other people’s experiences.
Viewers will explore with a purpose. A way to do that is to give them the chance to understand their own identity. This sort of exploration does wonders for the viewer's learning and cultural appreciation. Our audience will be able to connect and share their experiences with each other, since other viewers don’t get to experience a little bit of what is like to encounter to a specific culture. We want our audience to develop different understandings of the places that other people have lived through different perspectives and experiences. Make them more curious and aware of the fact that they can’t learn everything about a place and its culture by exploring only one person’s perspective. We want to spark our audience's curiosity and encourage them to become lifelong learners and travelers by making connections with different types of experiences from other people.
Our intended audience members for this exhibition are people of all types of different backgrounds. This is because we believe that it is important to bring as many people from as many different cultures together as possible in order to provide a variety of different cultural perspectives, giving our audience members a chance to embrace each other's’ cultural values and traditions. In addition, having audience members from amongst widely diverse backgrounds will provide a more innovative and enlightening “meeting of the minds” experience in which viewers will be able to understand and/or relate to each other’s values and beliefs. This strengthens each viewers appreciation of diverse cultural beliefs and practices.
In order to bring awareness for our exhibition, we will promote it by poster advertisements throughout the city. In addition, we will have online promotions to invite audience of different backgrounds from all over the world. Hopefully, non-profit organizations that support immigrant rights and diverse cultural communications will be willing to sponsor this exhibition. We hope that our initial group of audience will also help spread awareness of the exhibition by sharing their visits with their family and friends. This means that our main way of promotion would rely on our audience themselves, thus making the contents and arts from the exhibition extra important.
"Cloud Cities" by Tomas Saraceno
The series of immersive installations, “Cloud Cities”, by Tomas Saraceno was first showcased in the Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 2012. During the time, “Cloud Cities” was presented as a rooftop garden of the museum. Similar to the actual ongoing exhibition at SFMOMA, the installation was a constellation of large, interconnected modules constructed with transparent and reflective materials. Visitors were allowed and encouraged to walk into the installation and gain a first hand experience. The original installation was created to express the artist’s initial investigation and experience of the environment we live in. This site-specific project for SFMOMA is a simulated cloudscape establishment formed by suspended tension structures and floating sculptures, using materials like stainless steel, metal hardware(for actual structures and the main body of the piece) and nylon thread(extremely not noticeable threads that connected different floating pieces) . There are many reflective elements included in the piece, from steel itself to actual mirrors. Through the reflective metals, when visitors enter the space, they are allowed to have a fully immersive experience in this particular exhibition. These reflective mirrors and the similarities from structure to structure further allow visitors to slow down the pace and become a part of the artwork themselves. This special experience created by the design of the exhibition efficiently demands additional attention from museum visitors, thus providing full immersion and a semi-simulation. Born in Argentina, Tomas Saraceno was trained to become a professional architect in the cities of Buenos Aires and Frankfurt. In addition to his designated career, Tomas Saraceno found himself intrigued by the greater symbols and hypotheses hidden in architectures and arts. His works are heavily influenced by hypotheses and theories about society and environment made by other artists. “Cloud Cities” are parts of the artist’s on-going, larger long-term project, “Aerocene”. In the project “Aerocene”, Tomas Saraceno focused on proposing a vision where human would start minimize the effects of fossil-fuels impacts. It is very likely that there is a direct connection between the “Aerocene” and the architecture of Lebbeus Woods, who proposed that floating utopian cities would establish non-hierarchical social spaces. Behind the visual complexities of “Cloud Cities”, the main message of the art piece is actually about environment and society. Maybe in a way, “Cloud” specifically hinted elements of environment, and “Cities” is definitely a symbol or a direct form of society itself. It seems like the establishment of “Cloud Cities” was done to simulate a better, coexisting society for the upcoming future. The artist wanted to make sure visitors to the museum are able to experience this new society by being immersed and combined into the art piece while visiting the exhibition. This is his way of introducing a new idea and providing a solution to a problem. Through the reflecting glasses and the almost non-existed wires, it is easy for visitors to lose themselves and allow their beings to enjoy this separate and unique space. Just like many of his other works, the “Cloud Cities” at SFMOMA by Saraceno emphasizes the importance of interconnected society and minimized resource use. (Research by Gomi Zhou)
"Report" by Bruce Conner
The short, thirteen-minute black and white film by Bruce Conner was first produced in the year of 1967. In the short film, Conner repeatedly combined similar clips of reports about the assassination of JFK. He expressed his own confusion and anger about the event, through the format of the film itself.
“Report” is a thirteen-minute movie created using 16mm film. The production itself is empirical, that Conner did not include direct opinions from any actual witnesses or people who lived in the era. Instead, the film is a combination of a series of almost identical clips of news reports on the death of President John F. Kennedy. So in a way, the film was simply a replication of many other mixed forms of video clips that were publicly shown to the general medias at the time.
Bruce Conner showcased a selections of different news reports on the same historical events. Oddly, almost all the clips had the same exact imagery and the same voice narrating in the background. The artist might have exaggerated the similarities for artistic effect, but yet it is scary how little information was given to the public when this important influential event happened. None of the clip shown the actual shooting of JFK, which was a way for the medias to protect normal citizens watching at the moment. Instead, the clip of Kennedy and his wife waving at the camera, was the one that got picked and looped over for station after station, channel after channel.
The way the short film was composed demonstrated the frustration of people in the United States after the assassination. Very little information was given to the public, but everyone understood of the importance of this sudden change in the political world. The media was only helping the government to hide the truth, instead of guiding people in the dark. By putting all the reports together, Conner recreated the situation back in 1963, how every media outlet was emphasizing the emergency by reporting it over and over again. At the same time, he brought the sense of frustration back, by literally presenting the repetitiveness of these reports and the confusion they created for the people. Visitors to the museum are able to experience this frustration first-handed by watching the short film done by Conner, by staring at the repetitive, not informative report in a completely dark and separated room. The senses of anger, confusion, and fear were successfully recreated by the installment of media at SFMOMA.
Bruce Conner spent his whole life questioning the meaning behind existence of human being. During this historical event, just like all other people, the artist himself was blinded by the lack of information given and wanted more answers. As a person who always urged for more explanations, Conner was probably extremely annoyed and angered, by both the media and the society at the time. By creating this short film, on one hand he was able to calm himself down by trying to piece everything together. But on the other hand, the film was done mainly to express his anger towards the media and the government for hiding the needed truth from the country. (Research by Gomi Zhou)
"The Hotel, Room 25" by Sophie Calle
The title of the set of photos means “The Hotel, Room 25”. The series was created by Sophie Calle, who at the time was working as a chambermaid at a hotel in Venice. During the time she worked there, Sophie Calle focused on investigating the behaviors of ordinary people and understanding the guests themselves. The photo set of hotel rooms were all gelatin silver prints and chromogenic prints. None of the photos was simply the grand setting of a hotel room, but a specific object of the guest who was currently living in the room. This was an ongoing project for Calle for at least three years. Accompanying every photoset for a guest of a room, Calle also recorded the story in words to describe her photography. Specifically, “L’hotel, chambre 25” was about a young business man who lived in the room for a few days in 1981. For this particular young man, he left behind a diary in the room. From his diary, Calle was able to find out his whole trip of Venice in details. Based solely on the diary, this young man was very ordinary and had a routine like life. Yet, through her own words, it seemed like Calle herself was pretty intrigued by this young man. She photographed his clothes and toiletries, his diary and the newspaper he read, even the banana skin he left in the trashcan. Through these very detailed objects, viewers were able to see the man’s life with a magnifying glass, almost understanding his personalities and normal routines. The objects themselves become the protagonists of the story. Because every object stays in the foreground of an image, they easily catch the attention of viewers. The only information of the owners provided by these objects can only be seen from the details. Like Sophie Calle, in order to understand the subject, viewers need to investigate the objects on their own and try to find out as much as possible. They are put in Calle’s perspective, and were human detectives themselves. But because Calle’s first-hand discovery is also included in the installation, this becomes a game for the visitors itself. They are in a competition with Calle, depending on how much information they can actually analyze out from the images. Thus, it was very important for the images of objects to tell the story on their own. Calle is not only a French photographer but also a writer. She was very well-known in France for evoking the French literary movement in 1960s. People also knew her for her detective-like ability on observing strangers’ behaviors by following their private lives. The hotel room project itself was one of her investigation. To an ordinary person, it seems pretty odd of Calle that she went out of her general career route to become a chambermaid for one of her projects. But the amount of efforts she put in was probably also the reason for her to be able to efficiently understand her subjects and create works with amazing details. (Research by Gomi Zhou)
“Two Figures” by Maurice Sterne
Maurice Sterne was an American sculptor and painter who lived from 1878 to 1957. In the mid 1930s, he lived in San Francisco and taught at the California School of Fine Arts. Many critics believed that his paintings resembled his sculpting styles in that they had similar volume and weight. Sterne traveled to Europe during the 1890s and to Greece in 1908. From 1911-1914, Sterne traveled to East Asia with his friend who was a German painter and together they traveled to India, the far east, and Bali to paint and sketch. Two Figures was created in 1912 during the time that Sterne was traveling across East Asia. The material used in the piece is graphite on paper. The piece is a rough sketch of two people at a temple, praying. One of the two appears to be a monk because of his checked blanket and his sitting position. In the background is another temple visitor bowing and worshipping the temple gods. In the two people’s hands are what look like incense which show that the two people are saying a prayer. This piece connects to our exhibition’s theme because Maurice Sterne is clearly an artist who has done a significant amount of traveling and has witnessed a lot of culture. In his piece, “Two Figures,” Sterne captures one of the many key aspects of Asian culture: religion. In this piece, he displays a common practice found in East Asian culture which is visiting a temple. This is significant because Sterne is highlighting an everyday practice that many people who live in Eastern Asia do and gives his audience insight into the culture. This simple sketch of two people praying at the temple does not require the audience to think deeply about what is going on in the sketch or intensely break down and deconstruct the elements of art used, but rather lets them observe a typical cultural practice. The simplicity of this sketch and the materials used gives it an upfront approach to the audience. Sterne as an artist on his travels obviously just drew the aspects of East Asian culture he saw and observed in this sketch. In addition, this was drawn from a side view, giving a from the outside looking in perspective.
This contributes to our exhibition’s purpose because it provides a unique more broad perspective for the museum visitors. Also, this piece provides a look into East Asian culture and the one of the religions of the Asian region. “Two Figures” contributes to SF MOMA’s purpose because it appeals to the Asian community and because SF MOMA’s mission is to inspire a diverse audience, this piece helps since it draws in the Asian community and admirers of the Asian culture. We hope that by featuring this piece in our exhibit, our audience will be able to embrace the outside looking in perspective and then be able to compare that perspective to the feeling of actually empathizing with other pieces as well as trying to live the experience depicted in other art works. (Research by Elody Dang)
"The Raft of the Medusa" by Martin Kippenberger
Martin Kippenberger created series of painting as a connection to the past. In 1996, Kippenberger was dying slowly from his liver cancer. The misery and helplessness motivated Kippenberger to create and connect with an historical event about the French frigate, a sailing warship, Méduse.
Méduse departed from Rochefort to three other ships on June 1816. The captain was well-trained and had 20 years experience of sailing and the frigate's mission was to return the acceptance of the Peace of Paris to the British. The ship racked on 2 July ,and the captain’s lack of experiences was the blame for the accident. However, the “accident” was actually a creation of political issues. Passengers and crew then attempted to travel in the frigate's six boats but their resources are extremely low. Méduse carried 400 people but by the end only 15 men survived. Most were murdered, died from starvation or suicided, which became a public shame for the French monarchy.
Angered by the tragedy, Théodore Géricault worked with one of the survivors to create the oil painting The Raft of the Medusa (French: Le Radeau de la Méduse), and is considered an icon of French Romanticism. Drawing the connection back to Kippenberger 's serie. Kippenberger took inspiration from both the event and the artist. He picture himself as the survivors on the boat, desperate and furious. Only difference is that the members onboard were dying from bad condition, and Kippenberger was dying from sickness, but both on the edge of life and death. Working with Géricault’s composition, Kippenberger acted and modeled the poses of the figures, then photographed it as references. Different than the detailed, realistic oil painting by Géricault, Kippenberger worked with multi-media and with different dimensions. Kippenberger’s brush stroke are wild and visible, with a composition of messy combination of body parts. The color use of the Géricault’s had defined light and shadow, and coherent use of color. He considered all parts of the principle of design and arranged each part carefully. Kippenberger approached in a semi realism form. It is a bit confusing with very simple color. Some pieces had only brown background color and pencil sketches with little details defining the form, others were mixed with sharp, bright tone colors with some details of the background. Martin Kippenberger was born in Dortmund, Germany in 1953. He was a prolific artist who love to work with multiple mediums: painting, sculpture, installation, drawings, posters, photography and collage. Kippenberger’s sarcasm in his work evokes artist to self-analyse about their own contribution to the society and humanity. He used imagery representation of himself to criticise other issues and aimed at shocking and disturbing the viewer. Around 1996, by bring more insight on life and death, Kippenberger’s work got even more popular after his liver cancer, which is ironic because he died one year after in Vienna, Austria in 1997. Misery was one of the central theme in Kippenberger’s creations, which also appeared in some of the artist’s earliest projects.
Kippenberger appreciated the chance of life and affected the audience with his sense humor. Although the artwork directly showcased the combination of failure, embarrassment, derivation and bad taste. The audience will never know how miserable Kippenberger felt in his last year of life. (Research by Sharon Li)
"Les valeurs personnelles" by René Magritte
René Magritte filled up the canvas with everyday objects with unrealistic proportions. It is a room rapped with clouds as a wallpaper. The brushstroke was consistent throughout the painting and stayed realistic, which created a strong contrast between the cloud and blue sky for the cloud wallpaper. With an appropriate details in texture, the clouds feels soft and warm as if it's fresh cotton scattered across the baby blue background. The room had a typical ceiling with a few cracks and a wooden flour. Within the room objects -a comb, a bed, two mattress, one drawer with two mirror, a matchstick, a shaving brush, bar of soap, and a wineglass - were displayed in random places. All object, except the bed , mattress and drawer, were in proportion of a human, almost personifies the belonging of the artist.
By giving human characteristics to the objects, Magritte told the story of his daily life. The neatly made bed, a comb,a bar soap, and a shaving brush showed his intention to be presentable to others. In order to gain some social importance and respect in the society, one must look clean and tidy. Different than the social aspect, the match stick and the wine glass added humer to the art piece. Matchstick, which is “allumette” in french, played with the wording of the phrase “Tu m’allumes,” or “You turn me on.”. Aside with the wineglass which presented as female by its round and smooth shape. The juxtaposition of two object presented playful aspect of the artist, approaching the appreciating of the erotic in surrealist aspect.
Mirror has always symbolized the unconsciousness in both literature and painting. The reflection of the mirror indicated the size of the room, representing the full mind of the artist, both conscious and unconscious. The conscious part was two corner of the room, and the unconscious being the other corner, but one part remained unknown. In the a freudian psychology perspective, the last corner of the unconscious was the painful memories suppressed by the brain's defense mechanism. Not only the conor was presented, there were also a window, representing the artist’s subconscious need to escape. By presenting a familiar room with unfamiliar elements, Magritte reached his goal of creation: making audience wonder. Willingly interacting with the confusing art, the audience draw connection to themselves and create their own interpretation of the art piece. Or it could mean nothing at all, just a interesting piece to draw people’s attention from their busy, repetitive lifestyle. René Magritte described his paintings as “visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does that mean?’. It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”
Magritte offered this piece to his dealer Alexander Iolas in April but Iolas was unsatisfied and wrote to him complaining and this is Magritte’s response“ let me tell you first that it was not hurriedly painted... I worked on it for at least two months, and every detail was reconsidered and revised until a certain state of grace was achieved … Indeed, from the point of view of immediate utility, of what relevance is the notion that, for instance, a sky is chasing around the walls of a bedroom or a gigantic match [is] lying on the carpet or an enormous comb [is] standing upright on the bed?... In my picture, the comb (and the other objects as well) has specifically lost its 'social character,' it has become an object of useless luxury, which may, as you say, leave the spectator 'feeling helpless' or even make him ill. Well, this is proof of the effectiveness of the picture. A picture which is really alive should make the spectator feel ill, and if the spectators aren't ill, it is because 1) they are too insensitive, 2) they have got used to this uneasy feeling, which they take to be pleasure... Contact with reality (not the symbolic reality which allows social exchanges and social violence) always produces this feeling.”
By giving ordinary object special meanings, Magritte created elegant and mysterious imageries with professional artistic choices. The poetry like atmosphere contracted with the unfamiliar ordinary object, meanwhile creating a perfect balance. Bringing slight discomfort to the viewers as if they are in a dream, “Les valeurs personnelles” has achieved its initial intentions. (Research by Sharon Li)
"Port of Entry" by Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg engaged in questioning the definition of a work of art and the role of the artist, he shifted from a conceptual outlook where the authentic mark of the brushstroke described the artist's inner world towards a reflection on the contemporary world, where an interaction with popular media and mass-produced goods reflected a unique artistic vision. Rauschenberg believed that painting related to "both art and life neither can be made." Following from this belief, he created artworks that move between these areas in constant dialogue with the viewers and the surrounding world, as well as with art history.
The Port of Entry piece explores the ideas of home, travel and arrival. Here Rauschenberg achieved to work with photographs printed on transparent sheets, which enabled him to experiment more with multiple arrangements of overlapping and repeating imagery as needed to create more of this layered yet unified composition. He also drew subject matter from his travels. A parade of elephants, a Belgian statue, and street signs and construction materials he photographed abroad overflow from the two outer panels into the center panel of Port of Entry, reflecting his long-standing interest in foreign cultures. He also incorporates his birthplace; Port Arthur, Texas . This comes to show that as an artist it’s important to know where you come from that led you to be inspired to make a piece that you’re willing to share to the world. This piece’s intention is to leave the interpretation to his viewers. The layering of different images on this piece allows us to explore yet experience the concept of traveling through the perspective of the artist. This piece connects to our exhibition because it gives us a chance to explore yet understand the concept of traveling. Witnessing both stories about the artist and the images he laid out for us to interpret. (Research by Kath Pintor)
"Hiccups" by Robert Rauschenberg
In Robert Rauschenberg’s Hiccups (1978), the ninety-seven sheets of paper zip together represent a broad strip of imagery, that when you see it from a far distance it resembles a color bar. Individual panels shows different details and it represents something differently. When you look up-close, each panels presents a unique elements of images, using sheer scrims or colored snippets of ribbons and fabrics. As you go through the image, each panels sort of represents different types of creativity put into one. Connects back to exploring different types of cultural themes. The sheets can be put in any order but still manage to offer viewers a chance to track the endless narrative as you view across the panels. Rauschenberg incorporates different scraps of clothing to assemble an image that will be used as a focal area of the workpiece. The zippers of each end of the panel does not only allow for it to be arranged well, but it’s also a way for it to be an endless narrative for the viewers to personally relate without being distracted (view extensively). It creates this movement, in order for you to create an understanding of the piece, you have to work your way down to the end. Gives you a chance to have your own freedom, by finding your own start and ending of the piece. That’s the unique thing about this piece (exploration and freedom). (Research by Kath Pintor)
“Chris and Cynthia in their parents' bedroom” by Michael Jang
Michael Jang is an Asian-American portrait photographer from San Francisco whose subjects have ranged from teenage garage bands to David Bowie and Ronald Reagan. When this photo was taken, however, he was a CalArts student staying at a relative’s house in the 1970s. Looking for inspiration, he turned to his family, who proved to be capable subjects. In this photo, we see two people, probably cousins of the photographer, whom we can identify as Chris and Cynthia from the title. Chris, presumably, sits on the bed. He is wearing bell-bottom jeans, a popular style in the 1970s, and no shirt. He is also wearing sunglasses indoors and what could be a curly black wig. His mouth is open. He has one shoe. The other subject, whom we can infer is Cynthia, sits on an exercise bike. She holds what looks like the cord to the curtains in her hand. She is smiling, posing for the picture. She doesn’t seem like she knows what to do with her hands. The room is decorated in a typical early 70s style. The bed is unmade. This photo captures the image of this family’s inner life. The room seems fairly tidy, except for the unmade bed. The children are not. One is perched atop the exercise bike, possibly taking a break from riding it, fidgeting with the curtain cord. The other is missing his shirt and a shoe. The children seem like they were stopped in the middle of playing to pose for a picture and aren’t quite sure what to do. The setting is the parent's’ bedroom, a room that is usually off-limits for children. This appears to be the case in this household, judging by the tidiness of the room. However, they are there anyway. Whatever they were doing in the room before the picture was taken; jumping on the bed, riding the bike, messing with the blinds; is almost certainly in defiance of their parents’ wishes. This is a snapshot of their life. No one else has ever has this exact life and no one else ever will. They are Asian Americans. They are San Franciscans. It is 1972. They are young. They are living. (Research by Veronica Johnson)
“Destitute Migrants, California” by Dorothea Lange
“Destitute Migrants, California” by Dorothea Lange, 1936. This is a photograph on gelatin silver print. Dorothea Lange was a documentary photographer and photojournalist who was known for her work during the Great Depression. Much of her photograph depicted the results and influences of the Great Depression and what impact it had on America as a whole and to individual Americans. This event was unique because it clearly affected all types of people from all cultures living in the US in some way shape or form. This photograph shows an old man smiling at a child outside while he is sitting on a chair in front of a wagon. This is significant because it is clear that he has just moved to California during the Depression, in a time where the country was not in a good place, but he was still smiling down at the little girl. It shows that this man had hope during a difficult time and that he is hopeful to start a new life regardless of what is happening in the country because he went through so much to get there.
By featuring this piece in our exhibition, we send a message that even in a time of trouble, the US is often a place that unites and gives hope to people of different backgrounds. (Research by Elody Dang)
We decided our installation would take shape of an approximated cylinder/octagonal prism, in order to create a similar atmosphere that resembles a "globe". While artworks are hung on the outer layer, viewers have the opportunity to view the pieces through the windows on the inner layer. In fact, while viewing from the inner layer, viewers would not only be able to walk on the projected "globe" on the floor, they would also be able to see and consider other viewers on the outer ring as parts of the installation. This is purposely done in order to resemble different available paths and the cross-paths in different lives.