SF Camerawork’s 35th Anniversary Exhibition
An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area
Part 1: San Francisco Plays Itself
SF Camerawork, San Francisco
September 10 - October 31, 2009
Thirty-five years after opening their doors to the public, SF Camerawork, San Francisco’s only non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to the photographic arts, will launch its anniversary exhibition, An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area, on September 10, 2009.
This landmark anniversary exhibition explores the work of artists that have contributed to the cultural landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area through practices that are in dialogue with the events and the people of the region. Exhibited together, the cumulative effect of these works function in an autobiographical capacity that is inclusive and representative of a dynamic, multi-faceted and multi-cultural region.
SF Camerawork curator Chuck Mobley notes, “ just as a well-written autobiography brings to forefront specific moments and characters from the past, An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area also tells a story, or rather many stories of the region over the past 35 years.” Mobley selected works for the exhibition on the basis that they either document a significant era or circumstance, inform future art practices, or they bring to light the concerns of various communities.
Presented in two parts, SF Camerawork’s 35th anniversary exhibition (Part 1 & Part 2) will feature major new commissioned works, in addition to historically significant works, and contemporary pieces created as a means to address unique historical moments, locales, and people of the Bay Area. A cast of internationally recognized artists, as well as emerging artists, from the Bay Area and throughout the world will come together to celebrate SF Camerawork’s anniversary in this historical exhibition marking 35 years of Bay Area influenced photographic arts.
Part 1: San Francisco Plays Itself
San Francisco Plays Itself explores ways in which artists document their lives and the lives of others, address specific events, and engage with the Bay Area landscape.
Organized in three sections, the artists’ projects in San Francisco Plays Itself help illuminate the wide range of experiences that evolve within a community. Accompanying text panels—in each artist’s voice—emphasize the autobiographical focus of the exhibition and offer audiences a more in-depth background on the images.
Gallery One: Perspectives
The first of three galleries in the exhibition situates audiences within the landscape of the Bay Area through work that in many cases has not been seen by the public in recent years or is completely new work. From the contemporary work of John Chiara and pinhole photographs by Shi Guorui, to Alex Fradkin’s color images of Marin military bunkers and Catherine Wagner’s 1980s images of the Moscone Center under construction, photographs of architecture, neighborhoods, and topography, round out the variations of public spaces which, residents and tourists alike, share.
Gallery Two: Figures
Historical figures, public personas, and the personal all come together in unexpected ways in this gallery presentation of the Bay Area’s well known and less known. Portraiture works include Larry Sultan’s 2007 image of Denise Hale in her Russian Hill home, Michael Jang’s series of his extended Chinese-American family in Bay Area suburbia, restaurateur Alice Waters as photographed by Annie Leibovitz, and works by Judy Dater, best known for her black & white silver gelatin images of Imogen Cunningham and Twinka Thiebaud.
Gallery Three: Actions
San Francisco literally plays itself in Actions, the exhibition’s final gallery section, where historical events, performances, and social documentary work all converge. Artist’s works include Kota Ezawa’s ‘Hibernia Bank Robbery’ light box depicting Patty Hearst and the infamous 1974 SLA Hibernia Bank robbery to Mary Ellen Mark’s photo of author JT LeRoy, Sergio De La Torre’s staged, large color images of chauffeurs at SFO and other regional airports holding signs for famous artists, to a grid of images from Jim Goldberg’s ‘Rich and Poor’ series.
Ultimately, An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area tells stories of SF Camerawork’s history alongside that of the Bay Area’s, as viewed through the perspectives of a variety of talented artists in the medium of photography. As Sharon Tanenbaum, Executive Director, SF Camerawork, notes, “Through An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re looking at the Bay Area over the 35 years since we were established. The exhibition is about the whole range of artists working with an art form that has also undergone dramatic changes during this period. By highlighting very different perspectives, such as Richard Misrach’s look at Telegraph Ave at 3am in the early 1970’s, and different voices including John Chiara’s contemporary large-scale dream-like color images created from an enormous home-made camera, each featured work captures something that is relevant, unique, and often times poetic in its reflection of the Bay Area.”
In all sections of the exhibition, strategies of appropriation, documentation, performance and intervention align and cross paths with various photographic mediums. Emerging and deceased, internationally recognized and relatively unknown, the work in San Francisco Plays Itself documents the artists’ lives and the lives of others.
657 Mission St., 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105