The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) marks 75 years as a pioneering force in art with exhibitions and events, including a series of three Thursday evening happenings that offer a sophisticated social experience for late-night guests. Launching on March 18, 2010, SFMOMA: Now Playing invites artists to animate the museum in unexpected ways—and audiences to come play and see the museum in a new light. Guests can roam the galleries, take in live performances and talks, and unwind with cocktails and food while experiencing the atrium as a projection chamber, a hidden annex as a lounge, and artists playing the architecture.
Now Playing is spearheaded by the museum's education department and curated by Frank Smigiel, SFMOMA associate curator of public programs. "These events explore the museum as a social platform where artists and audiences together can reinvent its environment and create art experiences in real time, shared space, and a spirit of play," says Smigiel. "It's really about engaging with the museum itself as a total work of art. It's also a party, and like any party, you really have to be there."
Kicking off with headline performances by the Los Angeles-based art band My Barbarian on March 18, local sound artist Laetitia Sonami and video artist SUE-C on April 15, and a collaborative multimedia project from artist Chris Johanson and THE THING Quarterly (by artists Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan) on June 17, Now Playing continues SFMOMA's dedication to the increasingly event-driven, performance-based nature of contemporary art with experimental projects designed to catalyze the museum as a vital social space and provoke new art experiences for visitors as much as the contemplation of art objects.
The evenings are free with museum admission and include live entertainment, drop-in film screenings in the museum's Wattis Theater, and curator-led talks. Now Playing also features access to all galleries, complimentary bites from leading San Francisco restaurants, and cocktails from multiple cash bars. Artisanal menus from Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and Meat Paper magazine, designed specifically for these events, will also be for sale in the Rooftop Garden. More information is available at sfmoma.org/nowplaying.
SFMOMA: Now Playing
Thursday, March 18, 6-9:45 p.m.
7 p.m. Screening of selected films and videos from Long Play: Bruce Conner and the Singles Collection
9 p.m. Performance by My Barbarian
Whether reestablishing pagan rites, creating a song cycle for cross-dressing sailors and sequined mermen, or buying a young artist's soul, Los Angeles–based art band My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade) mixes history, myth, and politics to create flamboyant performance work. Tonight, My Barbarian plays with an eye to the atrium and rock opera. Before the performance, we screen selected video works from the current exhibition Long Play, featuring works by Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, Dara Birnbaum, Anne Colvin, Bruce Conner, Christian Marclay, and Pipilotti Rist.
SFMOMA: Now Playing
Thursday, April 15, 6-9:45 p.m.
7 p.m. Screening of Douglas Gordon's Feature Film
9 p.m. Performance by Laetitia Sonami and SUE-C
Bay Area–based Sonami is a composer, performer, and sound artist who designs and builds her own instruments. Her elbow-length "lady's glove" produces and conducts electronic sounds as she moves fingers, hand, and arm. Video artist SUE-C creates improvisational, live animations. These images and sounds are echoed by Douglas Gordon's Feature Film, a study of the hands, arms, and face of the Paris Opera's James Conlon as he conducts the orchestral score for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
SFMOMA: Now Playing
Thursday, June 17, 6-9:45 p.m.
7 p.m. Screening of Bay Area art documents, early 1990s to early 2000s
9 p.m. Chris Johanson leads the Mission supergroup The 17th & Capps
Experience the museum animated by artists and luminaries. Tonight: Johanson, a key figure who emerged among San Francisco's Mission School artists, returns to the Bay Area to launch his collaborative project with THE THING Quarterly. A periodical in the form of an object, THE THING commissions artist multiples that incorporate text. Each issue is kept secret until the date of release. Guests can purchase Johanson's THING issue and put it to use while watching video projections of moonrises by Johanson and Will Rogan. The musical group The 17th & Capps (featuring Johanson, Joe Goldring, Lara Allen, Wendy Farina, and Alex Oropeza) revisits its punk back catalogue, reinterpreted as American standards. Johanson also curates a video program documenting Bay Area performance art and San Francisco itself from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. The evening begins in the Rooftop Garden with a floral-based menu from Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and Meatpaper magazine.
SFMOMA: Now Playing is free with museum admission. Tickets are available only onsite at the museum starting at 6 p.m. Visit sfmoma.org/nowplaying for more information.
75 Years of Looking Forward is a series of exhibitions and events organized in celebration of SFMOMA's 75th anniversary. Major support is provided by the Koret Foundation, the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, and the Evelyn D. Haas Exhibition Fund. Generous support is provided by the Bernard and Barbro Osher Exhibition Fund. Additional support is provided by the George Frederick Jewett Foundation, Kate and Wesley Mitchell, and The Black Dog Private Foundation. Promotional support is provided by Gap. Media sponsors: KGO-TV, The San Francisco Chronicle|SFGate.com, and San Francisco magazine. The St. Regis San Francisco is the official hotel of the 75th anniversary.