SOMArts is proud to present Something (you can’t see, on the other side, of a wall from this side) casts a shadow, a multi-disciplinary exhibition curated by Juana Berrío exploring the politics of space in the urban landscape. The exhibition includes a selection of sculptures, videos, photographs, graphic scores, and paintings by a multi-generational group of artists from around the world.
“By shifting the focus away from real estate or city development and towards the human body, this exhibition emphasizes individuals who claim and appropriate public space in ways other than property ownership. The show includes a range of works where bodies, particularly those who have been historically less privileged and more vulnerable, challenge the forces that threaten to make them invisible, especially when urban planning, economic growth, public policy, and underlying societal stigmas seem to overshadow and disempower them,” curator Juana Berrío remarked on her curatorial debut at SOMArts.
SOMArts, located just a few steps from the new Airbnb headquarters and several other young startups and businesses, is also located in a neighborhood that has one of the largest homeless populations in the Bay Area. Situated in this paradox at the intersection of 9th and Brannan, SOMArts is one of few spaces remaining in San Francisco dedicated to preserving the fierce creative experimentation that makes the Bay Area so unique. Something (you can’t see, on the other side, of a wall from this side) casts a shadow invites viewers to engage this paradox in their own lives — to situate our bodies in the complexities of urban space in order to challenge the dynamics of gentrification and displacement.
The exhibition opens with David Wojnarowicz’s What is this little guy’s job in the world (1990), a photograph of a hand holding a small frog accompanied by a series of powerful questions: “What is this little guy’s job in the world? If this little guy dies does the world know? Does the world feel this? Does something get displaced? If this little guy dies does the world get a little lighter? Does the planet rotate a little faster?” This focus on the relevance of an individual’s journey and his or her presence in the world also appears in stanley brouwn’s rarely-shown note cards and drawings of how he navigates the streets and in Yuji Agematsu’s sculptures of small bits of trash contained within the clear cellophane wrapper from cigarette packs.
Senga Nengudi’s R.S.V.P. Reverie-0 (2015) is made with worn women’s pantyhose that have been pulled, stretched, knotted, and filled with sand. In the words of the artist, nylon mesh “relates to the elasticity of the human body… From tender, tight beginnings to sagging… The body can only stand so much push and pull until it gives way, never to resume its original shape.” On the other hand, Delcy Morelos covers a large fiber mesh in many layers of earth-colored paint and then folds it, solidifying and compressing its presence.
AK Burns’s sculpture creates a threshold and an obstacle that divides the physical space with a metal gate. The gate’s bars spell out the word “known” twice, once from either side, playing with the readable as well as the unreadable nature of what we think we already know.
Phillip Greenlief, an experimental saxophonist and composer, presents a selection from his MAP SCORES series, collages and drawings of cities and different geographies that constitute a musical score. Greenlief will perform a newly commissioned map score investigating the history of San Francisco on Saturday, July 14, 6:00–9:00 pm.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from a writing exercise that poet Ed Roberson gave to his students while he was a Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley in 2014. The assignment appears in Dodie Bellamy’s essay “In the Shadow of the Twitter Towers,” published in her collection When the Sick Rule the World (Semiotext(e), 2015), which forms the basis for a reading room that is also part of the exhibition.
Something (you can’t see, on the other side, of a wall from this side) casts a shadow
Saturday, July 14, 6–9pm
The opening night celebration features the performance of a newly commissioned map score by experimental composer Phillip Greenlief.
Artist Panel Discussion
Thursday, July 26, 6–8pm
Panel discussion in response to the themes of the exhibition with writers Dodie Bellamy, Daphne Gottlieb, and Tongo Eisen-Martin.
Image credit: David Wojnarowicz, What is this little guy’s job in the world, 1990. Courtesy of the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P•P•O•W, New York, © David Wojnarowicz.