A window from Eleanor Coppola's exhibition in the present day.

Project explores innovative art and performance in San Francisco

On Saturday 12 April 2014, Professor Nick Kaye will deliver a talk at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts in San Francisco about his latest project, SiteWorks. The developing online project curates traces and archival remains of ephemeral art and performance in San Francisco between 1969 and 1985 and may be experienced in journeys through the city or as an online history of this influential work. 

Using a database through Google Maps, SiteWorks invites participants to become agents of performance, art and site. By animating an archive of performance through real places, SiteWorks creates spaces for recollection, imagination and intervention, provoking present enactments of the city’s spaces in response to the fragmentary remains of ephemeral events from the past.

One such event was the 1973 participatory Windows exhibition by artist Eleanor Coppola which ran in that year from 16 February to 18 March. Eleanor chose 54 windows across the city which she designated as rich visual landmarks. She invited visitors to go out into the streets of San Francisco to complete the experience of the exhibition with just a map with the street locations of the windows. As the 1973 poster for the exhibition explained, her aim was to bring to the attention of the whole community that art exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation. SiteWorks provides for this work to be re-imagined or re-performed by participants, creating a layering of performance and history.

Professor Kaye comments, “SiteWorks is the public presentation of ongoing research into the radical and influential conceptual and performance art of Northern California of the 1970s and 80s that addressed themes of art and everyday life, place, media, identity, and environment. By restaging elements of this work in their original locations, this project also explores ideas around the nature of site, mapping, and documentation, as well as cultural and spatial history and memory.”

The project also allows participants to record and share their own memories, corrections, additions, and emotional or creative responses. The next stage of the project will include collaborations with staff at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and graduate students at the San Francisco Art Institute. To find out more, please visit the SiteWorks website and use the ‘Sites’ tab to explore the collections. The website will form the basis of a book of the same title.






















Date: 11 April 2014

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