In The Siren, a mermaid-costumed protagonist anxiously scales the crumbling remains of a graffiti-covered bunker, perched precariously on a coastal cliff known as Devil's Slide. As a low frequency audio score rumbles, the "siren" struggles to gain footing, bound by a garment that combines an image of kitsch seduction with an unsettling vulnerability. The Sirens—before popular culture imagination transformed them into seductresses—offered the lure of knowledge and specifically the lure of knowing all that had happened on both sides of the war in the Ancient Greek epic poem the Odyssey. For the last seven years Whitney Lynn’s conceptual practice has focused on the idea of traps. Beginning with devices designed to deceive in order to apprehend, such as fishing lures and hunting decoys, the work eventually morphed to deal with historical and mythological femme fatales. In her newest project this interest has manifested in investigations of Sirens, both the creatures from Classical antiquity and the modern apparatus for signaling impending danger.
Whitney Lynn employs expanded forms of sculpture, performance, photography, video, and drawing in her project-based work. Mining cultural and political histories, she reframes familiar narratives to question dynamics of power. Recent investigations examine the archetype of the femme fatale, perceptual traps, and the subversive potential of floral art. Lynn's work has been exhibited internationally and she has created site-responsive public art for the San Diego International Airport, the San Francisco War Memorial Building, and the Reno City Hall Lobby. She is currently working on a project that will be installed alongside the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle. She received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Lynn started teaching at the University of Washington in 2018. She previously taught at Stanford University, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Six technologically manipulated actions intended to:
1. Trap electricity
2. Loop time
4. Reverse looking
5. Temporarily immobilize the viewer
Working primarily in performance and video, Jennifer Locke composes physically intense actions in relation to the camera, audience, and specific architecture. Within this framework, she explores viewing structures—redistributing hierarchies between artist, model, camera, and audience—in order to explore spectatorship and the construction of meaning. Her actions focus on cycles of duration and draw from her experiences as a dominatrix, wrestler, and artists’ model. Locke has exhibited extensively, both locally and internationally. She received her BFA (1991) and her MFA (2006) from the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently the chair of SFAI’s New Genres Department.
Iran-Israel is a video and live performance showing two young female artists—one from Iran and the other from Israel—leaning on each other, both pushing and holding at the same time. The scene takes place in a deserted landscape, recalling the remote landscapes of these now enemy countries. The women use their bodies to create a simple triangle which they use to keep stable even when their bodies start to become exhausted and shake. The artists manifest the interpersonal tension that is generated by their bodies, as well as the political situation, while reflecting on a feminine manifestation of coexistence, depicting how the bodies interact with each other in a situation of dependence & conflict. The durational live performance takes place simultaneously with the ongoing video projection.
Maya Smira is an award winning multidisciplinary artist who uses time based media, photography, installation and performance. Her creative process is deeply involved in larger global and social issues and events, and is influenced by her constant travels around the world. In 2012, she obtained a BA in Arts and Humanities and a BFA in photography in Tel-Aviv. In 2014 she received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in New Genres, along with the Ella King Torrey Award. In 2016 she received The Outset Foundation Award for best video artist at the Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair in Tel-Aviv. She exhibits in museums, galleries and festivals around the world.
I Am Cuba—“Soy Cuba” in Spanish; “Ya Kuba” in Russian—is a Soviet/Cuban film produced in 1964 by director Mikhail Kalatozov at Mosfilm. The movie was not well received by the Russian or Cuban public and was almost completely forgotten until its rediscovery thirty years later by American filmmakers. The movie’s acrobatic tracking shots and idiosyncratic mise-en-scène prompted Hollywood directors like Martin Scorsese to campaign to restore the movie in the early 1990s. In 2006, Dulzaides traveled to Cuba to remake a small part of the film which became Scene I Am Cuba, a two-fold narrative in which one storyline is based on a real event, and the other is the process of turning evidence into the theatrical.
Felipe Dulzaides studied drama at the Instituto Superior de Arte of Havana and received an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute. A poetic and metaphoric sensibility underlies his practice, which ranges from single-channel videos to video installations and documentaries. Some of his works begin with actions executed for the camera; others use autobiographical experiences to illustrate the emotional stress of cultural displacement or to reveal memory as an unstable process of endless revision. Dulzaides oscillates between his American and Cuban identities, and he views his bicultural background as a bridge. He has received prestigious awards from the Cintas Fellowship, Creative Work Fund, Art Matters, and the Rome Prize among others and his work has been included in biennials, museums, contemporary galleries and art centers around the world.
This screening is curated from the KADIST collection.
In Leonardo's 2008 installation and performance piece, Bull in the Ring, the artist and 10 semi-pro football players perform a banned training routine that was commonly practiced in high school and college level American football teams. In the routine, the team forms a revolving circle around one player (the matador) who waits in the center of the ring. The coach selects other players (the bulls) to charge at the player in the center, often catching him off-guard and delivering a strong blow. Leonardo had been practicing this training routine since he was 12 years old and through the Bull in the Ring performance Leonardo explores the pressures young men have to face and conform to in order to prove their toughness.
Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly–a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based, non-profit Recess, is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment. Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York, and received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. From 2018 to 2020, Leonardo enacted socially engaged projects at Pratt Institute’s School of Art as a Visiting Fellow.
This screening is curated from the KADIST collection.
Displays of violent weather conditions, electrical storms, tornados, floods, fires and other eruptions are contrasted and equated with equally awe-inspiring images of technology that harnesses or mimics nature. Pitting the specter of nature against technology in time-lapsed images, this thoughtful and stirring work paints a portrait of the encounter between the human-made and the natural—between that which is within our power to control and that which is not.
Doug Hall is an internationally known artist who has worked for over 40 years in a wide range of media, including performance, installation, video, and large format photography. In the 1970s he became known for his collaborative work with the media art collective, T. R. Uthco, which, among many other works, created the video and installation, The Eternal Frame, 1976 (in collaboration with the art collective Ant Farm), a reenactment of the Kennedy assassination, filmed in Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Following the dissolution of the group in 1979, Hall continued to work in video, performance, and installation. He is Professor Emeritus at San Francisco Art Institute where he taught from 1980 until 2008. From 2008 through 2015 he was a Visiting Artist in Graduate Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco.
Ice is fashioned into a magnifying lens and used to start a fire. This short but fascinating ode to human inventiveness was created in 1974 and restaged in 2004. Paul Kos translates a well-known instruction from a survival manual into video: If there is no magnifying glass around to light kindling, try making fire with ice.
Born in 1942 in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Paul Kos attended San Francisco Art Institute, receiving his BFA (1965) and MFA (1967). Kos was central to the Bay Area Conceptual Art Movement, working in a materials-based practice, bringing together imagery of landscape with precepts of socialist ideals and the “Everyman.” Since the early 1970s Kos’s work has challenged conventions of art media and subject matter. For a global audience, he staged new possibilities for artistic treatments of time, space and cultural systems. Kos was influential to many students at SFAI where he taught and was a key figure in the development of its New Genres program.
From The Tower: Transmission can be seen live every Friday night starting at 9pm PST, from sites throughout North Beach or here via a special live stream feed.
Check out this map of vantage points around North Beach and Russian Hill if you plan to see the show in person. Before each screening, tune into the radio channel projected on the Tower to experience the live FM audio stream.
Tony Labat was born in Havana Cuba and came to the United States at the age of fifteen in 1966. He received both a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited internationally over the last thirty years. Labat has received numerous awards and grants and his work is held by many private and public collections. Labat works in performance, video, sculpture, and installation, investigating the body, popular culture, identity, urban relations, politics, and the media.
From the Tower is an exhibition series that explores artworks, images, objects, and stories living within the archives of the San Francisco Art Institute. Housed in the historic Tower of the 800 Chestnut Street campus and unique in its scope, the archive contains a vast store of primary source materials and objects whose creators range from bygone students to contemporary art superstars. Explorers of the archive—those willing to climb the levels of the tower in search of buried histories—will find unusual treasures from art worlds past and present, and visions of potential futures. Past exhibitions have brought SFAI’s archive into view and conversation with contemporary inquiries and include From the Tower: Andy Warhol and From the Tower: Queer Histories.