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Public Works: Artists' Interventions 1970s-Now

Not on view
9/16/2015 - 12/13/2015
Organizing institution: Mills College Art Museum

Public Works examines strategies of public practice by women artists from the 1970s to the present. The exhibition presents photography, prints, audio, video, and installations from a number of important historical and contemporary projects that explore the inherent politics and social conditions of creating art in public space. Public Works moves beyond traditional views of public art as monumental and/or permanent artworks and instead focuses on often small but powerful temporary artistic interventions online and in the urban environment. Through various tactics, Public Works explores themes of public space, public expression, public action, public platforms, and public life through the evolving lens of participatory projects, socially engaged performance and political action, among other media.

Christian L. Frock notes, “When considering artists’ interventions in public space, the limits on public expression come into sharp focus, particularly if we also consider the recent backlash against peaceful protests and the rising dominance of private interests. Public Works broadly considers how artists subvert these limitations to advance freedom of expression on a number of salient issues defining public life, specifically in relation to encroaching technologies, personal liberty, gender equality and the environment, among other themes.” “The desire to work independently outside of traditional venues and formats, to pursue collaboration and to encourage audience participation, informed the development of public practice since the 1970s. Key long-term projects in this survey demonstrate the potential for art to intervene and engage with public policy,” adds Tanya Zimbardo.

A series of public commissions are featured alongside the works in the gallery, including Susan O’Malley’s You Are Exactly Where You Need to Be (2012), a temporary mural on the facade of the museum and available as a take-away postcard; a newly commissioned gallery installation and newspaper intervention in the Oakland Tribune by Favianna Rodriguez, and off-site performance commissions by Constance Hockaday and Jenifer K. Wofford produced in collaboration with the San Francisco-based nonprofit Southern Exposure. The fully illustrated exhibition catalogue of the same title features an introduction by Mills College Art Museum Director Stephanie Hanor, PhD, essays by curators Christian L. Frock and Tanya Zimbardo, and conversations and texts from María del Carmen Carrión, Courtney Fink, Leila Grothe, Valerie Imus, and Meredith Johnson.

The exhibition is supported in part by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS


Opening Reception
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | 6:00-8:00 pm
MCAM

Artist Talk: Bonnie Ora Sherk
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 | 7:00 pm
Danforth Lecture Hall, Mills College

Performance | Panel: On Freedom of Expression and Technology as Public Platform
Featuring a live Skype performance by Enar de Dios Rodríguez, a special multiple produced by Leah Rosenberg, and a panel discussion featuring exhibiting artists Amy Balkin, Tania Bruguera (via Skype), Stephanie Syjuco, and Favianna Rodriguez.
Sunday, October 4, 2015 | 3:00 pm
Danforth Lecture Hall, Mills College

Curator’s Talk: Christian L. Frock and Tanya Zimbardo
Wednesday, November 4, 2015 | 7:00 pm
Danforth Lecture Hall, Mills College

Jenifer K. Wofford: MaxiPad: Templum de Mysteriis
Southern Exposure Off-Site Commission
Sunday, November 8, 2015 | 3:00-4:00 pm
Location: Morcom Rose Garden, 700 Jean St., Oakland

Constance Hockaday: You Make a Better Wall Than a Window - The Tour
Southern Exposure Off-Site Commission
Sunday, December 6, 2015 | 4:45-7:00 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Ferry Terminal, 99 Embarcadero, San Francisco

ABOUT THE CURATORS

Christian L. Frock is an independent curator, writer and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is presently 2015 - 2016 Scholar in Residence at the Center for Art & Public Life at California College of the Arts. Her work focuses on the role of artists in social justice and public life. Invisible Venue, the alternative curatorial enterprise she founded and has directed since 2005, collaborates with artists to present art in the public realm, online and in the built environment. Her writing has been featured in the Guardian US, KQED Arts, NPR.org, Public Art Dialogue, and San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. Frock has organized numerous interventions and site-specific commissions, including projects with EMERGENCY USA| Thoreau Center for Sustainability, Headlands Center for the Arts, Kala Art Institute, Oakland Main Public Library, and Mills College Art Museum, among others. She is presently visiting faculty at California Institute of Integral Studies, California College of the Arts, and San Francisco Art Institute. Chronicle Books released Frock’s first book, titled Unexpected Art, in March 2015. Her work is archived on www.invisiblevenue.com and www.visiblealternative.com. Frock possesses an MA in curatorial practice from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Tanya Zimbardo is the Assistant Curator of Media Arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She co-curated four off-site SFMOMA commissions in outdoor and non-art spaces for the 2012 SECA Art Award: Zarouhie Abdalian, Josh Faught, Jonn Herschend, David Wilson (2013) exhibition. At SFMOMA, Zimbardo co-organized Fifty Years of Bay Area Art: The SECA Awards and The More Things Change, among other exhibitions. She has curated numerous screenings of film, video, and performance documentation at the museum and other venues. Her research and writing is primarily centered on conceptual art, performance, experimental media, and artist-run projects in California since the 1970s. She has co-authored and contributed texts to several publications including SFMOMA’s Open Space and most recently West Coast Visions, Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul. Zimbardo received her MA in curatorial practice from the California College of the Arts. 


Exhibition Objects (6)


Exhibition Images (56)



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