Thursday, September 10, 2009

Offstage Response to SFMOMA Article

Offstage reply:

First off, we are all pleased that our proposal has initiated such a dialogue and look forward to continued discussion.

Before addressing specifics it is worth noting that our blog is in proposal form and has been constantly evolving for over a year. There are some rather crucial updates that have not yet been uploaded due to last minute changes. Clearly it is very different to approach a proposal as opposed to finished work. Second, it is clear that extensive reading has been done on the Wonderland website, but not a single interview conducted with any of the artists, the TCBD, nor the curator Lance Fung. Obviously we are conditioned to be devoted to our on-line world for information, but to write an entire article of a multi-dimensional exhibition through this one lens seems unfortunate. If we are truly concerned about addressing the social implications of such an art intervention, a thorough discussion with its participants and residents of the neighborhood seems required.

Having said that, our collaborative group is interested in addressing any misunderstandings toward our artistic intensions. We feel our central premise remains a valid component within the construct of this exhibition and the neighborhood and hope it continues to evoke a variety of reactions. Our goal is to create an installation that represents various cultural and psychological contradictions at work in the Tenderloin. Within this vein the complicated nature of “performance” and “audience” is also examined. The Tenderloin has always been a destination for various forms of entertainment and theater. On these stages there is an illusionary drama that is represented. Meanwhile, outside of these buildings a very real drama unfolds everyday. It may seem crass to describe a cathartic gesture emoted by someone in a desperate situation as a “performance,” but it is a very common, real behavior that holds a haunting poetry for all and should not be easily tossed off because it is not pc. The photos of pedestrians on the blog are a perfect example of our group researching our project as outsiders. Indeed we are all outsiders on this project, critics included, and we all bring a certain perspective as an “audience” to this situation. The Tenderloin has always drawn outsiders, tourists, transients and hosts of others since its inception. Wonderland will obviously bring a host of influences and perspectives and will complicate further the role of the outsider and the audience. All we can hope is that it leads to further discussion.

Our group is not interested in addressing politics or trying to stave off societies ills. We are interested in making an abstract visual beacon that reflects an internal, human struggle. The symbol of the cocoon holds a variety of references as does the sleeping bag. Obviously, we are conscious of the dangers inherent in aestheticizing these materials. Taking risks is an important component in art production. However, do not think we make these decisions lightly. We weigh these decisions between the three of us and each of our intellects and instincts. We have also given presentations on our proposal half a dozen times through out the last year to a variety of Tenderloin organizations who never thought we were being insensitive toward these issues. Ultimately, it will come down to the execution of the sculptures themselves that will weigh the balance of these ruminations and contradictions. We look forward to discussing any of these issues further during the Wonderland symposium on October 18th.


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