SOMArts Cultural Center presents I Live Here:SF, a major exhibition of San Francisco-based artist Julie Michelle’s ongoing photographic portrait and storytelling series that enables the public to share the spirit and fascinating layers of this city through the words and faces of those who live here. I Live Here:SF is an open invitation to San Francisco residents to enjoy and participate in sharing the many facets of life in this city with each other and the world at large. The project has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED Arts Online, SPUR’s The Urbanist, and the SF Weekly, focusing on how Michelle’s subjects interact with the city through participatory portraiture and personal storytelling. Throughout its myriad nano-neighborhoods and micro-climates, eager San Franciscans share the nooks and crannies of the day-to-day places that mark their lives, as well as provide glimpses into the way that the city itself has become an integral part of their identities.
Several public events accompany the exhibition, first is aPortraiture Workshop on Sunday, November 14, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm focusing on photographic portraiture and how the photographer engages and captures the personality of a stranger. The public workshop is open to all levels, but all participants are required to bring their own camera. This event is followed by a Writing Workshop on Thursday, November 18, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm where all participants get to hone their writing skills in poetry, playwriting and fiction, by working directly with the artist and storytelling participants in this exhibition. All workshops are led by featured artist Julie Michelle and select guests to be determined
Next is the Uncommon Cultures artist panel discussion featuring Julie Michelle and other I Live Here:SF project contributors, including Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Archives, Saturday, November 20, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. This panel discussion will focus on highlighting the elements in the exhibition that embody the unique cultural substrata in San Francisco, and will also highlight the film and video materials to be found in the Prelinger Archive concurrently on display in the SOMArts video annex as part of the exhibition.
A storytelling event in partnership with the Muni Diaries (MD), a San Francisco-based public transportation blog, will allow participants to share their San Francisco Muni stories with other attendees and also via the MD website. The date for this event is Wednesday November 17, 5:00 – 8:00 pm. Please check the SOMArts event calendar for more information.
Lastly, I Live Here:SF concludes with a special Closing Reception, Tuesday, November 30, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm that provides the public one last opportunity to engage with the artists and the curators involved.
All the photographic artwork in this exhibition by Julie Michelle is rooted in her process of structuring inclusivity. Anyone can participate in I Live Here:SF as long as they are a San Francisco resident and are willing to write a story or poem based on their life here. Most of the people she photographs are strangers to her so the participation on their part necessitates an openness and a willingness to work with a stranger. According to Michelle, “Each portrait session is truly a partnership. It’s also unique in that the majority of people who participate have never met me prior to volunteering and I often know nothing about them, not even what they look like: all I know is that they live here, too… “. Through requiring each participant to contribute directly to the completion of the artwork with their written words, Michelle successfully activates these cultural connections and unifies the participants through the dynamics of the project, thus creating a network of participants that takes the form of poems, stories, creative writing pieces and more.
The exhibition at SOMArts Cultural Center will highlight a collection of Michelle’s best photo work displayed as wall pieces and augmented by large-scale sculptural installations. Also included are works by another San Francisco artist, Chris Rusak. Using text, Rusak expands the vision of the I Live Here:SF project by manipulating participants’ stories to demonstrate the inner structure of the city’s collective experience. His printmaking is a metaphor for the story-collecting process of photography.
In the gallery’s video annex space, I Live Here:SF will showcase Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4: selections from the historic Prelinger Film Archive, which grew to over 60,000 pieces before being sold to the Library of Congress. Since then the archive has continued to exist as a private collection of approximately 4,000 pieces on videotape and a smaller collection of film materials that currently contains over 10% of the total production of ephemeral films between 1927 and 1987. It may be the most complete and varied collection in existence of films from these poorly preserved genres. The Prelinger Film Archive’s goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven’t been collected elsewhere.
This exhibition is generously supported by Dickerman Prints Photo Lab, Clear Channel Outdoors, Muni Diaries, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), San Francisco Department of Public Works (SFDPW), Rebuilding Together San Francisco, and Wizdom on Wheels.
All events are open to the public and appropriate for all ages audiences.