SOMArts Cultural Center presents Hidden Cities, a group exhibition February 22 to March 22, 2014, curated by Pireeni Sundaralingam and featuring 26 moving and still images and interactive, site-specific installations that rethink urban space in San Francisco. In Hidden Cities, the second of three SOMArts Commons Curatorial Residency exhibitions in 2014, exhibiting urban activist-artists, including architects and social interventionists, reveal the overlooked within the city, make visible the invisible, give voice to the unheard and encourage the gallery visitor to physically explore urban social and spatial structures in new ways.
“Hidden Cities is a chance for us to see our city in a completely new light. Whether investigating covert religions, hidden wildlife, or the way the human body navigates urban space, exhibiting artists challenge us to rethink the way we touch and listen, smell and taste, and really look at the city we call home. Hidden Cities provides a timely reminder that numerous alternative voices and visions continue to be neglected, and makes an urgent claim for the importance of seeking out the hidden and the unseen in San Francisco,” says Sundaralingam.
An installation by Christian Cerrito and Jennifer Fisher involves kites inspired by the “Rokkaku dako,” a traditional six-sided Japanese fighter kite design. Hand-constructed kites suspended by weather balloons point in unexpected directions as they hover over the urban landscape to remind viewers to rediscover their surroundings, explore new paths and embrace the unknown. A second installation Cerrito involves 4 anthropomorphized, animatronic belching metal trash cans, that, when installed among everyday surroundings, appear to be ordinary waste bins, but actually react to passersby.
Two photo series depict overlooked aspects of San Francisco’s architecture: Seng Chen captures architectural anomalies— places in our city where physical structures continue a cryptic existence outside function, while Matilde Cassani’s lenticular prints explore hidden religions, superimposing color images of shop fronts and the places of worship secreted away behind them.
Yulia Pinkusevich exhibits an artwork LED lights and salvaged materials from Recology SF, San Francisco’s dump, where she was an artist in residence from October, 2013 through January, 2014. “Maximum Capacity” depicts population density of Silicon Valley by correlated volume of capacitors.
Two interactive sound sculptures by Anja Ulfeldt destabilize daily routines and call attention to auditory experiences apartment residents have learned to ignore. “Obstacles” is a platform of articulated concrete tiles that tilt in two directions, creating a mutable surface on which any participant may become an impromptu performer. Each tilt, creak and thud is amplified. When gallery visitors interact with floor-based levers in “Pipes,” they trigger sound amplified water movement and recreate the background noise of flushing.
“The Sludge Economy”, a large-scale map of San Francisco by Lize Mogel, straddles the fields of art and cultural geography, reveals the infrastructure of human waste, specifically sewage treatment plants, and the social, environmental, and racial justice issues that are sometimes equally as invisible as the physical infrastructure.
A chocolate cake designed by Mogel and printed with locations of sewage plants as a visual aid and dessert will be served at the opening reception, Saturday, February 22, 2014, 6–9pm. Additionally, the opening showcases a range of performative practices that engage both the artist and gallery visitor in co-production. Several of the artists will give 3-minute introductions to their pieces. A parkour team demonstrates new ways to investigate San Francisco’s architecture by interacting with its physical spaces. Urban-activist groups, including Lemonopoly and Kearny Street Workshop, will move about the gallery during the reception and provide roving, interactive explorations of their perspectives on hidden aspects of the city.