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SFAI Exhibition Temporary Structures Explores Impermanent Architecture and Systems as the Site of Human Interaction, Spectacle, and Fun


Major group exhibition features architecture, installation, video, film, illustration, and performance art; on view in the Walter and McBean Galleries September 14–December 15, 2012; free and open to the public

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) September 06, 2012

The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious contemporary art colleges, is proud to announce the interdisciplinary exhibition Temporary Structures featuring works of art by over a dozen acclaimed international and Bay Area artists. Taking root in the exciting possibilities of impermanence and inspired by San Francisco's colorful history of World's Fairs, the exhibition includes works—many of them site-specific—concerned with architectural aspirations, follies, and momentary acts of cultural transformation. These works explore aesthetic, political, and social ideals, ranging from the rise of consumer culture to 19th-century French uprisings to the recent Occupy movement, and help bring new meaning and understanding to the past and present. Temporary Structures is co-curated by Glen Helfand and Cydney M. Payton.

The broad allure of World's Fairs, and their use of temporary pavilions in the service of now-questionable views of internationalism and entertainment, is a key element of the exhibition. San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, designed as a gateway for the exhibition halls of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, today serves as a “permanent” landmark, owning to the retrofitting of its original wood and burlap-fiber bones. The Palace represents a growing collection of temporary-in-design, yet lasting, structures around the world, including those captured in the works by exhibition artists David Gissen and Michael Robinson, as well as in Jacques Tati's 1967 film Playtime, which will be screened in conjunction with the exhibition.

With their late modernist architecture and long history of hosting impermanent exhibitions, SFAI's Walter and McBean Galleries are also central to the artwork in Temporary Structures. Revealed for the exhibition is a 1985 wall work by Paul Kos that has been interned under sheet rock for over a decade. Also remembered is David Ireland's stunning pour of concrete down the galleries' signature staircase in 1987, a kind of lava flow descending. Amy M. Ho's video projects have a similar focus on the galleries' staircase, imposing imagined possibilities and uses on the space. Jonathan Runcio's newly commissioned piece points to additions to and subtractions from the building since its “completion” 40 years ago. Some elements of the galleries have even been shifted—the entrance reworked, the skylights opened, a wall removed, new structures built—to make transparent the adaptability of fixed space and renew engagement with the perhaps-familiar place.

Yet another visual subtext for Temporary Structures takes hold in late modernism. The iconic utopian capital city Brasilia (and politically failed UNESCO World Heritage Site) is prominent in works by featured Polish artist Pawel Althamer and collaborative architects Roberto Behar & Rosario Marquardt. Althamer's video Brazil chronicles the journey of space travelers who have returned to earth to wander the futuristic architectural landscapes of Brasilia. Behar & Marquardt's site-specific commission dialogues with the architecture of the Walter and McBean Galleries, transforming the entrance into a fantasy that echoes the architectural forms found in the urban plan for Brasilia. While not a direct reference to Brasilia, Ben Peterson's epic drawing Ships Wake (2011) shares in the whimsical and haunting nature of imagined communities, cobbling together from unlikely elements of a shantytown and cruise liner.

In addition to the artists and works of art featured in the Walter and McBean exhibition, Temporary Structures includes a series of events, performances, artists talks, and film screenings that point to the relationship among temporary architecture, social structures, and spectacle, addressing both sites and the culture, dialogues, and economies they produce.

Schedule of Events
The exhibition and all its associate events are FREE and open to the public. Space is limited for some events, and advance registration is required. See details below or visit our website for a full schedule of events:

Opening Reception - September 14
Join SFAI for wine and appetizers at the opening reception of Temporary Structures. Enjoy a special climbing performance as part of Paul Kos's installation. And meet several of the exhibiting artists, including David Gissen, Amy M. Ho, Paul Kos, Christian Nagler and Azin Seraj Ben Peterson, Jonathan Runcio, and Together We Can Defeat Capitalism.

Exercise Session: Market Fitness - September 25, October 16, and November 20 (Register!)
Instructor, artist and writer Christian Nagler brings together two seemingly distant topics of conversation in popular culture: the demystification of the financial system and the importance of individual exercise routines. Get your sweat on in these three sessions, each exploring different topics: derivatives, foreign exchange, and commodities.

Film Screening: I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba) - October 1
Director Mikhail Kalatozov's 1964 cinematic masterpiece was intended as propaganda in support of the Cuban revolution as it transitioned from Batista to Castro. Watch the film today to better understand the utopian idealism of the communist era.

Artist Talk: Mungo Thomson - October 8 (Register!)
In this Visiting Artist and Scholar and Temporary Structures lecture, artist Mungo Thomson talks about his humorous, conceptually driven work. Discover first-hand how he artfully riffs on art-world figures, pop culture, science, and mysticism, and don't miss his Yoga Brick Wall (Black) installation in the Walter and McBean Galleries.

Film Screening: Playtime - October 15
In Temporary Structures, director Jacques Tati's 1967 film Playtime serves as a tone-setting device, an ephemeral world that exists forever in cinematic space. Join us for this screening of Tati's choreographed critique on modernism.

Artist Talk: Michael Robinson - October 29
As part of both the Visiting Artist and Scholars lecture series and Temporary Structures exhibition, film and video artist Michael Robinson shares his work exploring the joys and dangers of mediated experience. View his film Victory Over the Sun (2007) about past World's Fairs in the Walter and McBean Galleries and come listen to him talk about his work.

Film Screening: Urs Fischer - November 19
Directed by Iwan Schumacher, this 2010 documentary on artist Urs Fischer is structured around an approaching pinnacle of the artist's career: a one-man exhibition at the New Museum, New York, in 2009. Join us for the film's West Coast premiere.

Lecture: Jeff Gunderson - November 28
Learn about the temporary structures of SFAI's past. Long-time librarian and resident historian Jeff Gunderson shares stories, images, and other documentary material.

Salon: Guerrilla Café - Visit website for date
Drink tea and eat cake while you partake in political dialog. Revisiting the format of its 2000 “Guerrilla Tea Room,” Together We Can Defeat Capitalism 's Guerrilla Café offers free refreshments and an environment that encourages students and passers-by to discuss the upcoming election and radical thought of all sorts.

Participating Artists
Pawel Althamer, Roberto Behar & Rosario Marquardt, David Gissen, Amy M. Ho, Paul Kos, Roy McMakin, Christian Nagler & Azin Seraj, Ben Peterson, Michael Robinson, Jonathan Runcio, Mungo Thomson, and Together We Can Defeat Capitalism

About the Curators
Glen Helfand is a visiting faculty member in SFAI's History and Theory of Contemporary Art program. His writing, concentrating on contemporary art and culture, appears in Artforumand numerous other publications, and he has curated exhibitions for the de Young Museum, San Jose Museum, Mills College Art Museum, and Dust Gallery in Las Vegas.

Cydney M. Payton is former CEO and Chief Curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. She holds an MA in Curatorial Practice, Concentrating on the History and Theory of Architecture, from California College of the Arts.

About the Walter and McBean Galleries
The Walter and McBean Galleries on SFAI's 800 Chestnut Street campus house exhibitions, workshops, and other alternative and experimental avenues for presenting work by international contemporary artists. All SFAI's public programs and exhibitions are FREE and open to the public. They are supported, in part, by the Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.

Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am–6 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day

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About San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), a nonprofit art institution, is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art. A small school with global impact—notable faculty and alumni include Richard Diebenkorn, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Enrique Chagoya, Kathryn Bigelow, Peter Pau, Catherine Opie, Ruby Yang, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Lance Acord, and Kehinde Wiley—SFAI enrolls approximately 650 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, and offers a wide range of continuing education courses and public programs. The historic Chestnut Street campus is located in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood, and the Graduate Center is located in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood.

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