Touch On: Aesthetics in the Art, Politics and Ontology of Touch is a deep inquiry into the multifaceted nature of touch curated by James Fleming and Kelly Lovemonster. The first exhibition in the 2016–2017 season of the SOMArts Curatorial Residency, this group exhibition challenges viewers to reconsider preconceived notions of the meaning of touch through sculpture, installation, performance, traditional art and digital mediums. Touch On is the first in a series of curatorial programs by Fleming and Lovemonster.
Opening with a free public reception on Thursday, December 1, 6–9 pm, Touch On reveals the contingency of touch through the perspectives of fourteen Bay Area artists. Experimental engagements with touch encourage viewers to rethink their expectations of a visual art exhibition — creating an immersive gallery experience that inspires somatic and kinesthetic responses to contemporary art.
“Through deeply personal narratives and representations, this cohort of artists enmesh audiences in an active reconsideration of touch, and its ancillary forms and aspects,” Fleming and Lovemonster observe of their curatorial debut for Touch On.
The opening reception on December 1 will feature experimental performances by Dia Dear and boychild. Both are movement-based performance artists whose practices are deeply influenced by their early work in underground drag and performance scenes of San Francisco. Their live visual performances will activate Touch On and further illuminate the themes raised in the exhibition.
A self-taught artist born and raised in the Central Valley of California, sculptor and illustrator Craig Calderwood’s Beast of Burden uses larger-than-life soft sculpture to question the complex web of relationships between animals and humans — exploring what consent to touch might mean in the context of inter-species relationships.
Mexico City-based artist Manuel Solano’s series of drawings present a year’s worth of quick, gestural drawings originally meant for posting on social media. Presented together in the gallery, the drawings illuminate the centrality of touch in an artist’s daily practices.
In addition to the opening reception, public programs in conjunction with the exhibition include Figure, Form, Frame, artist and curator visual dialogue on Thursday, December 15, 6–8 pm and the closing reception and film screenings on Thursday, January 12, 6–9 pm.
Thursday, December 1, 6–9pm
The opening night celebration features performance activations by Dia Dear and boychild, in addition to performative installation activations by several exhibiting artists.
Figure, Form, Frame: Artist and Curator Visual Dialogue
Thursday, December 15, 6–8pm
An evening presentation and discussion by fat femme writer and activist Virgie Tovar, choreographer and performance artist Larry Arrington and Touch On curators James Fleming and Kelly Lovemonster. Figure, Form, Frame brings together voices on the science, politics and cultures of touch.
Closing Reception & Film Screenings
Thursday, January 12, 2017, 6–9pm
Touch On presents an evening of mixed media, experimental films, and digital art to celebrate and reflect on the closing of the exhibition. The evening will begin with social-practice artist Ramekon O’Arwisters leading visitors through an interactive crotchet jam.
Touch On is a debut exhibition by curators James Fleming and Kelly Lovemonster. This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of The Zellerbach Family Foundation, The SOMArts Curatorial Residency program, and individual donors.
Image credits (from top to bottom): Craig Calderwood, “Beast of Burden,” image courtesy of the artist; boychild, performance still from “The Future” with Korakrit Arunanondchai, MoMAPS1 (2014), Photo credit: Michael Moser; Craig Calderwood, “Beast of Burden,” Photo credit: Mido Lee Productions; Manuel Solano “Punchis Punchis,” image courtesy of the artist.