From July through December 2010, SFMOMA’s Live Art program invites San Francisco’s own Rebecca Solnit to lead a thematic tour of the Bay Area with Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a printing and public project by the acclaimed writer.
Solnit’s forthcoming book by the same title reimagines traditional mapmaking to chart not just space and place but also people and time in 22 inventive maps. SFMOMA has partnered with Solnit and a range of collaborators to issue six broadside prints (one a month through December) based on seven maps. Each map is joined to a series of Live Art events—both at the museum and out in the community—featuring many of Solnit’s Infinite City cohorts and special guests, such as artists Sandow Birk, Jaime Cortez, Amy Franceschini, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, and Trevor Paglen; filmmakers Christian Bruno, Ernie Gehr, Chip Lord, Lourdes Portillo, and Konrad Steiner; photographer Ira Nowinski; collector David Rumsey; poet Aaron Shurin; the culinary collective OPENrestaurant; and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, to name just a few.
In July, the “Monarchs and Queens” map juxtaposes the habitats of local butterflies with the shifting locations of queer public space. In August the series takes up conservative and military pursuits in the Bay Area with the “Right Wing of the Dove” map. September’s offering, titled “Cinema City,” looks at San Francisco through the lens of Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and leads participants on a film crawl through the city’s historic movie houses. In October the two-map broadside “All Identity Is Local” explores how one’s identity shifts when moving among neighborhoods, and looks at San Francisco’s present and vanishing subcultures. November’s “Poison/Palate” map traces the Bay Area as an ecosystem of paired opposites, sampling the finest food producers and biggest toxic polluters across the city. Finally, in December, the “Lost World” map revisits San Francisco’s South of Market district and the housing wars of its blue-collar past.
Infinite City maps are available free of charge at SFMOMA’s MuseumStore and various bookstores throughout San Francisco. Related Infinite City events at SFMOMA are free with museum admission. Most off-site events are free and open to the public. Visit sfmoma.org/infinitecity for more program and ticket information.
CALENDAR OF INFINITE CITY MAPS AND EVENTS
Infinite City: Monarchs and Queens
With art by Mona Caron and an essay by poet Aaron Shurin, this broadside map juxtaposes the habitats of local butterflies with the shifting locations of queer public space. By paralleling two dozen butterflies with both vibrant and lost LGBTQ landmarks, the map brings to light a particularly shimmering flight pattern of San Francisco denizens.
In this opening celebration and introduction to the Infinite City project, Solnit is joined by Rumsey, president of Cartography Associates, to discuss the relevance of cartography in the modern world, the collecting of maps, and the rich histories they can embody. Shurin reads from the “Monarchs and Queens” map, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence bless the occasion and give away the broadsides.
Local butterfly expert Liam O’Brien guides us on a tour of Bayview Hill. The area is a local butterfly hotspot in July and a great place to witness a wide variety of butterflies as they search for their perfect mate, also known as hill-topping. Butterflies we are likely to spot include the Anise Swallowtail, Echo Blue, California Ringlet, Painted Lady, and Woodland Skipper.
After hill-topping with the butterflies, join us at the top of another hill, this one overlooking the Castro, for a thought-provoking afternoon linking together this map’s many fancy flyers. In discussion will be poet Shurin, who authored the “Monarchs and Queens” broadside text; Boyd, the author of Wide-Open Town, a history of queer culture in San Francisco before 1965; and Monroe, park ranger at the Muir Woods National Monument.
Infinite City: Right Wing of the Dove
Upending the image of the Bay Area as a liberal and bohemian haven, “Right Wing of the Dove” documents the muscular history of military centers and corporate-military partnerships in the region. As Solnit writes, “we are the brain of the war machine, or perhaps its imagination.”
Birk, the artist behind the “Right Wing of the Dove” map, joins us to screen In Smog and Thunder: The Great War of the Californias. Based on a cycle of paintings, posters, and etchings by Birk, the film imagines the inevitable conflict between Southern and Northern California and their capital cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The film’s mock-documentary style transforms the alternative reality of Birk’s artwork into a tantalizing possibility. Birk introduces the film and is joined by Solnit for a post-screening discussion about California cultures and conflicts. The Center for Tactical Magic’s Tactical Ice Cream Unit will be on the scene to distribute the broadsides.
What sort of conservative activities are happening right here, in the area often cited as the most liberal in the country? Juhasz, director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange and lead author of The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report, discusses the Bay Area’s centrality to corporate exploitation around the globe. Trevor Paglen, an experimental geographer and artist whose recent works focus on government surveillance and secret programs, turns to the invisible economy of military-corporate technical invention in the Bay Area. His new book, Invisible: Classified Landscapes and Covert Actions, will be published by Aperture this fall.
Infinite City: Cinema City
September’s “Cinema City” map charts the genesis of cinema at the hands of Eadweard Muybridge in 1870s San Francisco; the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo here in 1957; and the 71 movie houses that were open in 1958, the year Vertigo premiered. Writing about this map, Rebecca Solnit contemplates the ghosts set loose by Muybridge’s invention and the “dream palaces” they so pleasurably haunted, considering how cinema shapes our own apprehension of being and loss—especially in the city. Visit sfmoma.org/infinitecity for ticket information.
Launching the “Cinema City” broadside, we turn to San Francisco as both a source and a frequent subject of cinema. Andy Black and Sam Green’s Fog City lovingly captures our atmospheric conditions, while Christian Bruno’s Strand considers the city’s great postwar movie houses. Bruno, producer Vekic, and editor Pullinger will be on hand to introduce and discuss the film-in-progress, which tracks the golden moment of repertory theaters in the city, the types of public life these places permitted, and the political forces that drove all but a handful away.
Critic J. Hoberman has described Gehr’s celebrated body of avant-garde film work as “a tale of three cities”: Berlin, his parents’ home; New York, where he became known for his structuralist films in the late 1960s; and San Francisco, where he lived and taught from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s. Cotton Candy visits San Francisco’s beloved Musee Mecanique before its move from the Cliff House to Fisherman’s Wharf; relishing the proto-cinematic devices there, Gehr recaptures the dream of cinema before it found its big screen. Gehr introduces the film and joins us for a post-screening discussion.
In this shorts program, we feature works whose protagonists race and toggle through San Francisco’s real and imagined streets. Lord’s Movie Map runs iconic car chases in Bullitt and Vertigo against each other. Portillo’s My McQueen tracks the influence Bullitt star Steve McQueen exerts on San Francisco’s multiple identities, while Lord’s Awakening from the Twentieth Century wonders if the virtual is edging out the actual spaces captured in these films. In an excerpt of Overdoing the Movies, Steiner’s collaboration with Connah, foot and car chases from What’s Up Doc, The Conversation, and other films are linked in an endless action loop, supported by a newly revised, live score.
Profiling Hibiscus, the splendidly sequined founder of the legendary Cockettes, filmmaker Pickup saw his Grove Street loft transformed into “a glitter factory” for a very San Franciscan series of revels. The film captures Pickup’s home remade as a cabaret for Hibiscus’s free theater group, the Angels of Light, and even Allen Ginsberg arrives to perform Blake poems in drag.
We conclude our “Cinema City” film crawl with one of our map’s touchstones: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The film’s doubled portraits of obsession and desire find stars Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak wandering a gorgeously shot San Francisco. With its celebrated Bernard Herrmann score fueling the complex psychologies at play, Vertigo is consistently experienced as one of the greatest films ever made.
Infinite City: All Identity Is Local
Two maps about identity are featured in October. A joint project by Rebecca Solnit and artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña responds to the question “Who am I where?” with a wonderful exploration of the authors’ shifting identities and circumstantial memories. “Tribes of San Francisco,” by local artist Jaime Cortez, is a cartographic display of vanishing and arriving ethnicities and subcultures that have inhabited San Francisco.
In Pacific Heights, Rebecca Solnit is “the granddaughter of Trotsky’s flag boy,” while Guillermo Gomez-Peña is told he looks like “that member of Santana’s band.” “Who Am I Where? / ¿Quien soy y donde soy?” examines how neighborhoods, history, and individual institutions work to shape our character, while also extending an open invitation to consider your own geographical identity. Gomez-Peña and Solnit use this piece from the October broadside as a point of departure for a night of performative readings from their personal and political cartographies.
In conjunction with Litquake SF, the largest independent literary festival on the West Coast, we celebrate the stories and voices of the Mission and the city at large in an evening emceed by local performance artist Guillermo Gomez Peña. Join us in the heart of the Mission for remarkable anecdotes and readings about San Francisco from Rebecca Solnit, leader of the map project, and other contributors: Aaron Shurin (“Monarchs and Queens”), Joshua Jelly-Shapiro (“Shipyards and Sounds”), Jaime Cortez (“Tribes of San Francisco”), and Adrianna Camarena (“The Mission: North of Home, South of Safe”).
Infinite City: Poison/Palate
November’s “Poison/Palate” map traces the Bay Area as an ecosystem of paired opposites: Napa vineyards versus Silicon Valley interiors, Chez Panisse abutting Chevron, San Francisco’s industrial past remembered in its consumer-and-culinary-based present. Pairing food producers and toxic polluters, Solnit suggests, “the Bay Area is good at containing contradictions . . . and it’s good at making both poison and delights for the palate.”
Tonight we are joined by artist and designer Franceschini, whose participatory and often collaborative projects deal with sustainability, food, and our local, everyday environments. Franceschini founded Futurefarmers, an international collective of artists, in 1995; in 2004 she cofounded Free Soil, a group of artists, activists, researchers, and gardeners who work together to propose alternatives to the current social, political, and environmental organization of space.
What is the future of water, for us? OPENwater, SFMOMA’s latest collaboration with the artists, chefs, and educators who make up OPENrestaurant, takes the form of a pop-up restaurant and art installation in a large warehouse space on the San Francisco waterfront. This immersive dining experience highlights three major areas: oceans and fisheries; water management, both urban and agricultural; and water as a medium. The piece serves as a platform to focus on water as our most fundamental resource and to debate the health of the Bay Area’s environment, water table, and water-based politics.
Infinite City: Lost World
San Francisco’s South of Market district is a poignant example of a shifting landscape that holds many histories in a small area. The “Lost World” map looks at the few blocks between Second and Fourth streets between Market and Folsom, and reveals that this sector now known for its museumgoers and shoppers was once the blue-collar heart of San Francisco. By using the footprints and names of long-disappeared hotels, factories, and shops, as well as stunning photographs by Ira Nowinski, the map builds an in-depth panorama of what the neighborhood looked like in 1960.
In the early 1970s, San Francisco–based photographer Ira Nowinski developed a relationship with the men of the South of Market district who were being displaced in the name of the “greater good” of redevelopment. The resulting book, No Vacancy: Urban Renewal and the Elderly, profiles a changing neighborhood and the men who fought for the right to live there. Tonight Nowinski discusses the subject matter of the book as well as the “Lost World” map, which includes two of his breathtaking images.
Join us for a trip back in time. This program reveals the South of Market neighborhood’s many faces and phases, as local experts take us backwards through the neighborhood’s many histories. Before the museums and convention centers there were leather-clad punk rockers; anti-gentrification protests and even riots; SRO havens; and the Third Street of Jack Kerouac and Jack London. We revisit the rich Filipino cultural history of the neighborhood and look back to the days when Mission Bay was actually a bay.
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SFMOMA’s Live Art series has transformed the nature of the museum’s public programming, embracing the event-driven, performance-based aspect of much contemporary art. Encompassing a broad spectrum of programming—from intimate collaborations to provocative spectacles—Live Art supports direct interactions among artists, artworks, and communities and activates the museum’s spaces in new ways. Previous events in the series include hands-on workshops with artist Allison Smith; Metal + Machine + Manifesto = Futurism’s First 100 Years; New Humans’ Today Is Not a Dress Rehearsal; William Kentridge’s The Return of Ulysses; Fritz Haeg’s Animal Estates; Eve Sussman’s The Rape of the Sabine Women; and Weimar New York: A Golden Gate Affair.