Program — Sophont in Action

Saturday, March 18, 2017, 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 19, 2017, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Processional performance beginning at the entrance at Howard Street/Roberts Family Gallery

Desirée Holman’s Sophont in Action follows esoteric beings — elder Time Travelers, adult Ecstatic Dancers, and young Indigo Children — as they enact rituals across generations. Invited as witnesses, we join Guides in an unfolding ceremonial space, throughout the expanded SFMOMA building. Our procession echoes the first Sophont performance on June 2, 2013, when Holman’s characters led audiences outside of the Mario Botta-designed SFMOMA building and asked those gathered to “Look Up. Imagine More.” At that time, the command seemed directed at the museum itself, invoking our current moment with its new architecture standing overhead. In this time, in this action, Sophont in Action’s inhabitants call to the future, one whose object might now be bigger, more personal, political, and as ever present-tense as before. Our movement together occurs in silence.

— Frank Smigiel, associate curator, performance and film

Desirée Holman’s Sophont in Action was commissioned by SFMOMA as a part of Performance in Progress.

A close-up portrait of artist Desiree Holman

Desirée Holman


Born in Alabama, Desirée Holman currently lives and works in Oakland, California. An interdisciplinary artist, she works across various media including public art, performance, video, and photography as well as painting and drawing. Her gallery-based work makes use of rehearsals, costumes, and props to present complex social groups, often in a state of change. Holman describes her work as attempting to “occupy British anthropologist Victor Turner’s notion of liminality, a transitional state of ritual wherein participants fully engaged in performance inhabit a series of new, hybrid identities.” Holman’s 2016 SFMOMA commission, Sophont in Action, captures these hybrid identities as they prepare for a utopian future from the esoteric knowledge and lived experiments of the past and present.