• Nam June Paik, A Tribute to John Cage, 1973/76, still from a single-channel color video, 29 minutes 2 seconds. Cage performing 4'33".

    “The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now”

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    151 Third Street
    November 8, 2008–February 8, 2009

    Curated by Rudolf Frieling

    Since the 1990s, art wedded to social praxis has fueled endless critical inquiries, exhibitions, private name-calling, and studious name-giving—the stickiest example being Nicolas Bourriaud’s “relational aesthetics.” But of course art devoted to participatory practices and communal collaboration can trace its bloodlines through the twentieth century, from Dada on. Curator Rudolf Frieling chooses to begin this scholarly exhibition with John Cage’s 4'33" of 1952, moving forward across six decades of artists and collectives ranging from such midcentury luminaries as Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, and the global mischief-makers of Fluxus, to Maria Eichhorn, Francis Alÿs, and recent digital initiatives by Torolab and ShiftSpace. In the catalogue, Frieling, Robert Atkins, Boris Groys, and Lev Manovich track the combustion of collectivism, activism, and bottomless artistic ambition.

  • Bruce Conner, Valse Triste, 1977, still from a 16-mm black-and-white film, 5 minutes 10 seconds.

    “The Wizard of Oz”

    The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
    360 Kansas Street
    September 2–December 13, 2008

    For the first installment of the Wattis Institute’s planned trilogy of exhibitions responding to American literary masterpieces, director Jens Hoffmann follows the yellow brick road with a show inspired by L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A cast of twenty-one well-known artists working in sculpture, drawing, photography, film, and video, including Robert Bechtle, Bruce Conner, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Carsten Höller, and Steve McQueen, will contribute some thirty-five works—either extant pieces that address the novel’s themes and iconography, or new work made specifically for the occasion. The show will also take stock of the early reception and interpretation of Baum’s work by presenting, alongside the artworks, ephemera related to the book’s original publication and various film adaptations. Yes, Dorothy’s ruby slippers will be there!