Event Press Release

SFMOMA's Live Art Program Presents Tony Labat's I Want You

Release date: August 19, 2008

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to present Tony Labat's I WANT YOU, the latest installment in the newly launched program series Live Art at SFMOMA. Beginning on September 4, 2008, artist Tony Labat invites denizens of the Bay Area to make their own demands of the public. Riffing on the iconic "I Want You" army recruitment campaigns of World Wars I and II, he asks what you would do if you had only one minute to seize the voice of authority, to be the finger-pointing Uncle Sam. How would you fill in the rest? I Want You . . . to do what? And what if your demands were performed before and voted on by a live audience?

On September 4, individuals can deliver one-minute monologues in solo auditions at SFMOMA. A week later, on September 11, fifty contestants chosen by the artist on the basis of these preliminary auditions will appear before a live audience and a host of documentary cameras. At the end of the evening, the audience will choose five winners. Poet and activist Jason Mateo, program director at Youth Speaks, will serve as emcee for the evening, and chanteuse Veronica Klaus will provide musical interludes between monologues and during post-performance vote-counting. Winners will have their images and monologues printed on an "I Want You" poster, to be put up around the city in the week leading up to the presidential election. Participants will also be featured in Labat's new video project, I WANT YOU, screening at SFMOMA in November.

I WANT YOU marks the fourth installment of Live Art at SFMOMA, an ongoing series of innovative public programs designed to embrace the event-driven, performance-based nature of today's most engaging contemporary art. Previous events include Fritz Haeg's Animal Estates, Eve Sussman's The Rape of the Sabine Women, and Weimar New York: A Golden Gate Affair.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD in Tony Labat's I WANT YOU Competition

Registration Deadline
Register to perform by September 1, 2008.
Enter by emailing your contact information to edu@sfmoma.org.
Participation is free and open to the public.

Preliminary Auditions
Solo auditions will be held at SFMOMA's Phyllis Wattis Theater
on Thursday, September 4, at 6:30 p.m.
Auditions are closed to the public; the 50 winning entrants will be notified via email.

Live Competition
Tony Labat's I WANT YOU

Jason Mateo, Emcee; music by Veronica Klaus
Thursday, September 11, 6:30 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater
$10 general; $7 SFMOMA members, students, and seniors.
Tickets are available at the museum (no surcharge) or online at sfmoma.org/tickets (surcharge applies).

Tony Labat
Since the mid 1970s, San Francisco-based artist Tony Labat has explored the intersection of performance, video, sculpture, and installation. By staging interventions in the public sphere—through acts such as his 1978 appearance, with Bruce Pollack, on NBC's The Gong Show, or his participation in a regulation boxing match at Kezar Pavilion with artist Tom Chapman in 1981—Labat's investigations of the body, popular culture, and politics address notions of spectacle and how it shapes our world view. Born in Cuba in 1951, Labat came to the United Stated at the age of fifteen. He received his bachelor of arts degree (1978) and his master of fine arts degree (1980) from the San Francisco Art Institute, where he is currently chair of the new genres department. His work has been exhibited at venues worldwide, including MOCA, Los Angeles; MoMA, New York; SFMOMA; and the Havana and Seville biennials.

Support for Live Art at SFMOMA is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Thursday evening half-price admission is sponsored by Banana Republic. Virgin America is the official airline of Thursday Nights at SFMOMA.

Media Contacts

  • Robyn Wise, 415.357.4172,
  • Libby Garrison, 415.357.4177,
  • Sandra Farish Sloan, 415.357.4174,


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project that will significantly enhance gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase more of its expanded permanent collection. While the museum is temporarily closed for construction,  through 2016, SFMOMA is “on the go” with an extensive array of off-site programming across the Bay Area, including collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, major outdoor projects and commissioned installations, and new education initiatives.

Visit sfmoma.org or call 415.357.4000 for more information.