My article “Wonderland: A world turned upside down” published on Open Space on September 7th sparked a lengthy and heated debate among the blog’s commentors, many of whom are participating artists or people invested in the Tenderloin neighborhood. In this follow up article I summarize a few of the concerns and respond to what I consider the most relevant issues concerning tourism, representation and sustainability. This article will be the last of my contributions to Open Space for the time being. Read the response here.
Wonderland, a public, collaborative project by Lance Fung is set to open in October 2009 in the Tenderloin of San Francisco and includes an impressive number of artists whose projects will respond, in some way, to the neighborhood. This article expresses my concern about this project and is best summarized through the following question borrowed from Izida Zorde: what responsibilities do artists working in relation to communities have to engage not just with their surface but also with their underlying politics and realities? “Wonderland: A world turned upside down” asks that we consider the broader impacts of our artistic practices in geographical locations we have little connection to and questions the curator’s intention of reconceiving the Tenderloin, the poorest neighborhood in San Francisco, as a tourist destination. Full article published on Open Space.
Since 1994, Lewis Watts, local Richmond, California photographer has been documenting the city of New Orleans. Today, on the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina I consider Watts’ relationship to the South through his role as witness and informed participant. Focusing on a few images from Watts’ impressive New Orleans portfolio, the article “A Sustained Presence: The Photography of Lewis Watts on the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina” seeks to describe New Orleans as a city whose complexities neither began nor ended with Hurricane Katrina. The full article is available here.
“This land wasn’t made for you and me” was written after touring the San Francisco Federal Building designed by Morphosis Architecture firm. The article focuses on the building’s plaza on the corner of 7th and Mission Street that claims to be “public,” yet is built on federally owned property. Despite its sustainable design, there is little connection between the designer’s mission to create a democratic social space and the actual function of the federal building. Read the full article on SFMOMA’s blog Open Space.
“No Place Like Home: Design and Architecture in post-Katrina New Orleans” responds to Eric Heiman’s discussion of beauty and utility through an examination of the rebuilding projects of the Make It Right Foundation and Habitat for Humanity’s Musician’s Village. The issue of housing in post-Katrina New Orleans is very dear to my heart and this article examines the long-standing tension around recent sustainable, green design in the Lower Ninth Ward. Read it on Open Space.
“The Garden as Protest” considers the recent emergence of urban gardening projects as a form of non-violent protest through the project known as FARM: Future Action Reclamation Mob initiated by designer Robyn Waxman. Read all about it on Open Space.
My first article written for SF MOMA’s blog, Open Space entitled “Public Art and Redevelopment” examines a current construction project in San Francisco’s Mission District and questions how public art functions within the context of redevelopment. Check out the article here.