Janet Cardiff: The Telephone Call

March 25–July 23, 2023
Floor 1

Embark on an unusual journey through SFMOMA by participating in one of the museum’s most innovative commissions, Janet Cardiff’s site-specific video walk The Telephone Call (2001/2023). Using a collage of video images, music, ambient sounds, and her own voice, the Canadian artist narrates an alternate reality of our surroundings. Cardiff’s video walks have long prefigured what today is known as Augmented Reality technology, combining pre-recorded images and sounds with our real-time perception of the same spaces.

On view for the first time since SFMOMA’s expansion in 2016, and newly updated to reflect changes in the museum’s architecture, The Telephone Call offers a layered experience of museum spaces both past and present, including galleries, public spaces, as well as areas normally off limits to visitors. With her captivating voiceover, Cardiff explores, “how our minds invent scenarios from chance meetings between people.”


The Telephone Call is available for viewing Friday–Tuesday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., and from 1–6 p.m. on free First Thursdays (April 6, May 4, June 1, and July 6).

Check out a smartphone and headphones at the designated kiosk in the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Atrium on Floor 1 to begin your journey. Proof of admission and photo ID is required. This video walk involves accessing several sets of stairways. Closed captioning is available for this work, please ask a staff member for more information.


Header: Janet Cardiff, The Telephone Call, 2001/2023; purchase through a gift of Pamela and Richard Kramlich and the Accessions Committee Fund, gift of Jean and James E. Douglas Jr., Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein, Patricia and Raoul Kennedy, Phyllis and Stuart G. Moldaw, Lenore Pereira and Rich Niles, and Judy and John Webb; © Janet Cardiff; photo: Don Ross, courtesy SFMOMA