Dial Collect

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Before I Die, 2011 © Courtesy of the Artist and SOMArts Cultural Center
Dial Collect

934 Brannan @ 8th
San Francisco, CA 94103
April 5th, 2013 - April 26th, 2013

(415) 552-1770
Tue-Fri 12-7; Sat 12-5; Administrative hours by appointment


SOMArts Cultural Center presents Dial Collect, a group exhibition of large-scale audience-interactive installations open April 5–26, 2013 bridging people and stories. Curated by 2012–2013 SOMArts’ Commons Curatorial Residency recipient Calcagno Cullen, works by thirteen exhibiting artists provide dynamic viewing opportunities that allow gallery visitors to interact with the art and with one another. Dial Collect is the antidote to society’s recent transition to communication through socially interactive technologies— an offline opportunity to share creatively and to relate to both friends and strangers in meaningful ways.

Dial Collect will include participatory works such as Candy Chang’s “Before I Die,” which serves as a barometer for the values, dreams and aspirations of gallery visitors by allowing them to share their sentiments on a chalkboard mural. Originally created on the exterior of an abandoned house in New Orleans in 2011 following the artist’s loss of a loved one, “Before I Die” has since been reprised and remixed in public spaces across the globe by others using templates and installation guides.

Adriana Atema’s installation “Yawning Booth” comments on the communicable phenomenon of yawning as a shared experience by inviting visitors to enter a small booth and yawn in response to audio recordings of the artist yawning. Live video of the yawning is then projected via a digital video baby monitor, exposing other gallery visitors to the contagion of the yawn.

Cullen contributes “Call and Response,” an installation comprised of four no-dial corded phones as a means to transmit and receive ideas in real time. One pair will automatically record the participant’s voice in response to a prompt, while the other pair plays the recorded response.

Intimate relics document prior communication and allow the viewer to access the artist’s personal and private moments as well as the experiences of others. Hearing-impaired artist Joseph Grigely’s missives and musings, displayed on monochromatic paper in a grid formation document the artist’s interaction with friends and strangers.

Grigely’s installation is part of a larger archive of thousands of such notes that have been exhibited internationally, while included works by Cullen, Gilette, Paul de Jong and Hugh Leeman have never been exhibited before.

Lori Gordon’s “Snippets” also offers bits of conversation as art, encouraging the viewer to actively consider and appreciate these moments out of context. Gordon invites friends and strangers to display these statements in their windows or in other public spaces, and exhibits the documentation of this display as photography alongside the textual declarations as vinyl and paper signage. Gordon will collect snippets observationally during the opening reception on Thursday, April 4, 2013, 6–9pm, and through live interview sessions with gallery visitors at a special event on Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7–9pm; selected snippets will then become part of the installation until Dial Collect closes.

Leeman, known for his wheatpastes and paintings of San Francisco’s homeless, offers an installation extending three dimensionally from a painted wall. The installation features a self-portrait of the artist created in collaboration with friends and neighbors who live in tents in the alley adjacent to his Tenderloin studio. Collaborators include many of the subjects of Leeman’s portrait paintings, which he then screen prints on t-shirts. The shirts are given to his subjects to sell on the street for their own profit.

Lauren Gillette’s collection of traumatic remembrances, “The Following Sea,” is an installation based on crowd-sourced stories of illness and trauma. Gillette mailed participants vellum tags on which to share their deeply personal experiences, as well as an ink pad to add a thumb print as the author’s only identifying mark. The tags will be contained in glass bottles and suspended from a grid system; thumbprint pads and blank vellum tags will be available to gallery visitors who wish to contribute.

“Mao Songs,” a video by Mark Harris, features recordings of 35 Beijing musicians singing Mao Zedong’s “Long March” poems in their respective musical idioms. A diverse assemblage of performers, including traditional musicians from parks, pop singers from karaoke bars, street musicians from subways and rock-and-roll bands from clubs, perform a collection of poetry written between 1934-36, predating the declaration of the People’s Republic and embodying a utopian vision.

Dial Collect is one of four exhibition proposals selected to receive a 2012–13 Commons Curatorial Residency exhibition at SOMArts. Selected artists and curators receive curatorial stipends and a support package valued at over $20,000, as well as access to one of the largest and most beautiful gallery spaces in the heart of the city to expand their practice, engage the Bay Area’s cultural communities and turn vision into reality