Jonn Herschend
Stories from the Evacuation, 2013

Jonn Herschend investigates emotional truth, confusion, and absurdity in everyday life through video, film, installation, and performance. His work questions the ways we interpret the validity of information, often through corporate communications tools like PowerPoint and informational videos. He has addressed the institutional messaging of arts organizations in several works, filming reenactments of museum visitors' mundane experiences and installing fictional "disorientation" videos at exhibition entrances. His work often employs the literary device of the unreliable narrator, a technique that turns his self-described "site-specific fictions" into personal and confused dramas that reveal multiple interpretations of a given situation. With deadpan humor, his films and videos speak to the poetics of failure and the ambiguity inherent to life.

Stories from the Evacuation (2013), shot on location at SFMOMA in spring 2013, uses the building's closure for expansion as the point of departure for a behind-the-scenes look at the museum's temporary art and administrative relocation. The artist interviews several key staff involved with this undertaking. Exploring narratives of risk and personal transition, the film investigates the disjuncture between public- and private-facing identities. The camera moves through spaces typically inaccessible to visitors and in a state of transition: the offices, the basement woodshop and library, and the fifth-floor galleries, used as a temporary storage space for paintings and sculptures being packed. Herschend's narrative begins with the tremendous collaborative effort involved in this transition and becomes increasingly focused on one interview subject's personal backstory. "With all stories, there is a front of the house and a back of the house," the artist says. "There are stories we present to the world, and there is the complicated and sometimes messy reality of how these things happen."

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Stories from the Evacuation
Artist name
Jonn Herschend
Date created
dimensions variable
Date Acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of the artist and Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco
© Jonn Herschend
Permanent URL
Artwork Status
Not on view at this time.

Artist Jonn Herschend describes why he is drawn to the action that takes place behind the scenes.

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.