The Art of Participation

1950 to Now
November 8, 2008–February 8, 2009

Looking back nearly 60 years across a wide spectrum of genres and media, this exhibition examines how artists have engaged members of the public as essential collaborators in the art-making process. Works by more than 40 artists will be on view, from early performance and conceptual pieces by such pioneers as John Cage, Lygia Clark, Dan Graham, and Hans Haacke to contemporary projects by Jochen Gerz, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Erwin Wurm, among others. Encompassing restagings of historic installations as well as new commissions that invite your direct participation, the exhibition will change in form and content as you and other visitors contribute — either at the museum or online.

The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is generously funded by The James Irvine Foundation and SFMOMA’s Collectors Forum. Additional support is provided by Goethe-Institut San Francisco. Media support is provided by The Examiner and SFExaminer.com.

The James Irvine Foundation

five people standing around circle of microphones
Erwin Wurm, photo of back of person balancing yellow bucket on head
man and woman looking at each other wearing goggles
Gerz, crowded room with two people holding images of men's portraits
Gommel, installation view of woman and man looking at each other wearing headphones
man standing between naked man and woman in doorway
Als, man holding gun walking in front of green taxi

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Microphones, 2008; courtesy the artist; © Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Erwin Wurm, One Minute Sculptures (detail), 1997; collection of the artist; 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VBK, Vienna; photo: Kuzuyuki Matsumoto

Lygia Clark, Dilogo: culos (Dialogue: Goggles), 1968; Clark Family Collection, Rio de Janeiro; photo: Eduardo Clark, courtesy “The World of Lygia Clark” Cultural Association; © 2008 “The World of Lygia Clark” Cultural Association

Jochen Gerz, The Gift, 2000; installation view at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Tourcoing, France, 2000; photo: courtesy the artist; © 2008 Jochen Gerz and Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, Germany

Matthias Gommel, Delayed, 2002; installation view at Klangriffe Festival, Hochschule fr Gestaltung Karlsruhe, 2003; courtesy the artist; photo: courtesy the artist; © 2008 Matthias Gommel

Abramovi / Ulay, Imponderabilia (photographic documentation), 1977; performance at the Galleria Communale d’Arte, Bologna, Italy, 1977; courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; photo: Giovanna dal Magro; © 2008 Marina Abramovi and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany

Francis Als (in collaboration with Rafael Ortega), Re-enactments (video still), 2001; Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner Gallery, New York; photo: courtesy the artist; © 2008 Francis Als