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SFMOMA Brings Contemporary South African Artists to San Francisco

Released: February 18, 2014 ·

In conjunction with the exhibition Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa (opening February 21 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [YBCA]), SFMOMA presents Live Projects 4, a series of performances, public conversations, and creative encounters that weave the work of South African contemporary artists into San Francisco’s urban structure. Unfolding at various locations—from YBCA’s galleries to the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District—Live Projects 4 explores the unexpected intersections of art, activism, and the everyday.

Continuing SFMOMA’s exploration of the local and global landscapes, Live Projects 4 draws parallels between current Bay Area conversations touching on gentrification, displacement, and diaspora and those taking place in South Africa, a highly charged society undergoing tremendous change. The featured artists and activists look to the intimate gestures of daily life to express the poetics and politics of “the ordinary act,” illustrating the way small interpersonal exchanges can carry widespread political weight.

Follow the conversations with #PublicIntimacy.

Performance | Athi-Patra Ruga
Saturday, February 22, 6 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street, San Francisco

Athi-Patra Ruga’s The Elder of Azania, a performance piece that takes the form of an absurdist funerary procession, features fantastical characters whose upper bodies sprout colorful, liquid-filled balloons, revealing only legs in stockings and heels. Drawn from both classical Greek and Roman accounts of southern Africa and activists’ dreams of a pre- and post-apartheid black African utopia, Ruga’s Azania occurs as a state in flux. As the performance unfolds, the liquid-filled balloons droop and pop, dissolving the character to reveal the performer.

$10 general; FREE for SFMOMA members.

Artist Talk | Zanele Muholi
Wednesday, March 12, 7 p.m.
201 Franklin Street, San Francisco

Zanele Muholi is a photographer and self-described “visual activist” dedicated to addressing social injustice, particularly issues of race, gender, and sexuality. She is best known for her photographic series Faces and Phases, which portrays black members of the LGBTI community in South Africa and around the world. Muholi will be joined by Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs at SFMOMA, for a talk on documentation, bearing witness, and larger issues within the LBGTI community.

Speaking to the New Statesman in 2013, Muholi said,Every individual in my photographs has her own or his own story to tell. But sadly we come from spaces in which most black people never had that opportunity… I’m not [here] to speak for the people, but to share and change the portrayal of black bodies… It’s about time that we bring positive imagery of us in space where we are there, but hardly seen.”

$10 general; $7 SFMOMA members, students, and seniors.

Symposium | Bearing Witness
Sunday, March 16, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street, San Francisco

This one-day symposium, hosted by SFMOMA, will focus on the pervasiveness of photography in everyday life and the significance of the rapid and fundamental changes that the field is currently undergoing. Experts such as Pete Brook, editor of prisonphotography.org; blogger for Wired, and freelance writer and curator; David Guttenfelder, chief photographer in Asia for the Associated Press; Susan Meiselas, photographer, Magnum Photos; Margaret Olin, senior research scholar, Yale University; Doug Rickard, artist and founder of americansuburbx.com and theseamericans.com; Kathy Ryan, director of photography, The New York Times Magazine; Zoe Strauss, artist, Magnum Photos; and Mike Krieger from Instagram will consider how social media, digital cameras, and amateur photojournalism have altered the way photographs capture everyday life and explore how photographers have responded to these shifting conditions.

This public event is sold out, but interested attendees can register for the waitlist. Admission is free.
This event will be streamed live online.

Additional Live Projects 4 programs include a performance by Kemang Wa Lehulere on the figure of Nat Nakasa; a conversation between Pratibha Parmar and Allan deSouza; an outdoor dance event with the Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre; a symposium on visual activism; and an installation by Chimurenga at the San Francisco Public Library.

Images: Athi-Patra Ruga, The Future White Women of Azania, 2012; performed as part of Performa Obscura in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky; commissioned for the exhibition, Making Way, Grahamstown, South Africa; photo: Ruth Simbao, courtesy Athi-Patra Ruga and WHATIFTHEWORLD/GALLERY. Protesters gather for Tahrir Square rally, November 23, 2011; photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

Jill Lynch 415.357.4172
Clara Hatcher Baruth 415.357.4177 chatcher@sfmoma.org
Press Office