Beginning June 11, Southern Exposure and LA-based Machine Project will join forces to become Southern Machine Exposure Project: three weeks of back-to-back events in unlikely spaces. In private homes, garages, and possibly your neighbor's backyard, 20 different combinations of LA and SF artists will conduct a spree of one-night-only performances, happenings, and general tomfoolery to small self-selected audiences throughout Oakland and San Francisco.
Furthering the collaboration between North and South, each event will be commemorated by posters created by LA and SF designers. As the project progresses, Southern Exposure, acting as headquarters, will screen the growing archive of video documentation on a daily basis.
If this all sounds incredibly ambitious and possibly chaotic, that's because it is. But where there is great risk, there is also great potential for unexpected and transformative results. Torreya Cummings, one of the San Francisco artists involved, identified these elements as the most appealing part of the series. "Part of the reason I jumped at the chance to do this project was how convoluted and mayhemic it promised to be," she wrote in an email. "I love the idea of an 'artist exchange program,' because wherever you live, it's hard not to get trapped in a kind of small-world provincialism of artwork you already enjoy, and ways of working you expect to see. So I look forward to finding out what the LA people bring in."
Only the most dedicated (and possibly unemployed) will be able to make all 20 events, so I've done the difficult task of highlighting 5 not-to-be-missed selections from the growing list. Though, to be honest, they all look freakin' great. More details will emerge over the next few weeks and a spot at each event can be reserved beginning 7 days prior through Eventbrite.
Thursday, June 14, 7-9pm
Artists: Brian Getnick (LA), Stijn Schiffeleers and Justin Limoges (SF)
While some of the events require only that spectators arrive and watch the art unfold, Schifeleers and Limoges need each audience member to bring a 3-pronged extension cord for the successful realization of their piece, handshake / mandrake. Using Super 8 projectors and props, the artists will lead participants in an exploration of the house. They will then make popcorn and analyze "the handshake." For his piece Go between, Getnick will resurrect Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles as "green specters" to provide tragicomic entertainment for spectators. How these two pieces will exist together within a Potrero Hill home is a mystery you can only solve by attending.
Friday, June 15, 7-9pm
Artists: Scott Cazan (LA), Joshua Churchill (SF), Chris Kallmyer (LA), and Suzy Poling (SF)Information on this night is limited, but even the briefest of descriptions is enticing enough for me. CLOSET CONCERTS will feature four concurrent sound performances in closets throughout the house. Poling, under the moniker "Pod Blotz," will play a piece titled Zone Portal that includes pulsating synthesized sound, a sci-fi reading, and special effects (dry ice and lights). What the other three will produce is to be announced, or to be discovered, if you choose to be one of the 30 people jostling for listening space outside a closed closet door.
Sunday June 17, 3-8pm
Artists: KRYSTAL KRUNCH (Asher Hartman & Haruko Tanaka) (LA), David Wilson (SF)
This early evening program will begin on the steps of the house with a group walk led by Wilson. Halfway through, the tour will pause for some group plein air drawing (bring your own paper and pencil/pen), before returning to the house for KRYSTAL KRUNCH's contribution, titled CALLING. Spectators will enact the "art of visiting, or paying calls." This may include parlor games, silence, and communion with various types of energies. KRYSTAL KRUNCH asks that participants bring a small pocket-sized object to act as a blessing on the household, presumably to be left behind. As long as you don't think a piece of paper, a pen, and a small valueless item will weigh you down too much, this evening promises to be a contemplative one, allowing participants to follow their own intuition in a supportive group setting.
Thursday June 28, time TBA
Artists: Torreya Cummings (SF) and Emily Auble & Miriam Jones (LA)
Cummings' piece, Destry Rides Again, Again will feature two tableaux vivants (read: people in costumes holding very, very still for as long as they physically can) combining imagery from the 1939 Marlene Dietrich film Destry Rides Again, Dietrich's 1930s cabaret, and a 1870s Texas saloon. Fittingly, Cummings responds to the home setting with a popular form of 19th century parlor entertainment. While information on Auble and Jones' piece is forthcoming, I'm already sold on the night for the sheer spectacle of Cummings' remake of a remake and the novelty of seeing appropriation come to life.
Friday June 29, 6-11pm
Artists: Helena Keeffe (SF), Ambient Force 3000 (Jason Brown, Amar Ravva & Dave Eng) (LA)
This two-part night is a doozy. From 6-9pm, Keeffe will host an intimate custom-made dinner reflecting the immigration stories of the 12 gathered participants. With one course for each diner, this is an enormous undertaking for the artist. As a result, the rules are slightly different: in order to reserve a spot for this event you must sign up by June 15, pay a $20 fee for the dinner, and send Keeffe short responses to a series of questions that will help her prepare your dish. Once satiated, lean back, enjoy some ambient tunes, and reflect on the experience.
Behind these exciting juxtapositions and collaborations is the partnership between Southern Exposure and Machine Project, two non-profit spaces continually pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an arts center in their respective communities. The element of surprise, the possibility of failure, and the intimacy of these gatherings are prime examples of the best you can hope for in contemporary art. Reserve your spots now!
Southern Machine Exposure Project runs June 11–30, 2012. For more information visit soex.org.