From August 1 through December 31 2010, a shifting inventory of objects will be on display within SC13—one of the many glass showcases that line the walls of the San Francisco Antique & Design Mall (SFADM). With more than 200 antique dealers operating independently within the 37,000-square-foot warehouse, the SFADM offers tens of thousands of artifacts for sale—administering the exchange of cultural, symbolic, and economic values seven-days-a-week. Yet dealers Chris Fitzpatrick and Post Brothers offer nothing for sale. Instead, by parasitically inhabiting the SFADM’s pre-existing display apparatus, SC13 mirrors and refracts the operating logics of the antique mall to investigate the paradoxical properties of matter and the contextual boundaries of an exhibition.
Titled after its location, SC13 emphasizes the reciprocal discourse between the objects on display and their means of containment—how context, juxtaposition and arrangement modify the expression and circulation of things. This conversation will take place over the course of five months, as a succession of objects and subtle interventions by international cultural producers appear, disappear and, in some cases, reappear. An object by Nicolas Matranga is visible only through its discernible absence, while Elisheva Biernoff creates a nearly indiscernible double—a replacement nearly lost in this maze of material culture. Both Emanuele Becheri and Mauro Vignando employ antiques as material, but the former scorches the artifacts with new signification, while the latter reduces the material to its hidden essence.
The exhibition’s primary audience comprises the many antique collectors who already frequent the SFADM. Presented without explanation, the same contextual silence found in the other showcases at the SFADM allows viewers to extrude and inscribe meaning through the imaginary and real narratives implied by the objects themselves. A significant dialectical discordance exists between the historical and material particularity of an object and how it reappears and circulates, which SC13 exploits to productive ends. The objects on display will be seen amid an identity crisis; jettisoned from their intended art context and implicated through proximity as antiques, their appearance will be skewed as the objects take on new faculties.
Just as antiques are detached from a specific time and place, the objects inserted into SC13 have equally been displaced through the material and ideological transformations that brought them into being. Moreover, the critical capacity of many of these objects is contingent on their means of distribution, which is both extended and arrested through this project. What happens to a bird’s nest, for example, already reclaimed and put into circulation as a travelling sculpture by Juozas Laivys, when incarcerated in an antique mall? What type of harmonies resonate when Gintaras Didžiapetris extracts a letter from a violin and what sound does the hole make when separated from the whole? And how do Nicolas Boulard’s holes bore portals between Californian and French vintages? How did Taha Belal deliver a New York Times newspaper entirely in Arabic? How did Benoît Maire fit the history of geometry into a pair of high heels and why does Bill Albertini’s combination of biomorphic and architectural forms feel so uncomfortable?
Although SC13 is a single exhibition, its ongoing fluctuation will allow complex discursive constellations to form within the showcase, which will be quietly echoed and elaborated by external events within the larger space of the SFADM—from the invigilations of a dog translated by poet David Buuck to Malak Helmy’s object-oriented accounting of certain “tool beings” that surveys the ontological, temporal and spatial ecology of the SFADM. Lauren Marsden introduces a temporally wayward woman who discloses anecdotes about various artifacts and remnants. As the relationships fostered within SC13 diffuse out into the heterogeneous field of the SFADM, their affect activates an altered perception of the innumerable other displays and objects. The questions raised within the showcase will also permeate into the cracks in the concrete through a subtle continuous interjection by Zarouhie Abdalian.
SC13 is both microcosm and macrocosm, representing not only the tension between interiority and exteriority, but also different modes of interiority (the within within within). Just as the glass layers a surface upon the display, framed by the entire SFADM, the objects within SC13 engage in an additional exchange of surfaces—a movement of skins, coatings, situations and strata. One may see objects by Carlos Bevilacqua and Brandon Walls Olsen as introducing concentric models of worlds within worlds or selfishly tautological containments. Like a mask, George Maciunas’ photostatic print suggests both a façade and an inward cavity. Meanwhile, Cameron Kelly dresses a rock in affluent attire and Giovanni Oberti coats diminutive objects with a secondary shell. Similarly, an object by Michelle Lopez looks like something, but that thing is unclear, yet clearly references a skin trade through its surface and materiality. At the moment when this project may become familiar or predictable, a disruption by Abdalian renews the project’s obscurity.
Finally, SC13 will be prolonged through its catalog, which is being designed by Alfa60. The publication will reach different audiences—documenting, but also extending the project further into new terrain and times. Joshua Martinez and Jason Kalogiros will filter the documentation of SC13 through a number of representational procedures, both faithful and abstract, that compromise any stable memory of the project.