'The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers’: Left out in S.F.
By Kimberly Chun
Published 6:34 pm, Wednesday, April 29, 2015
How do you solve a puzzle like San Francisco — a city in flux, planted in a bedrock of Left Coast values and a shifting landfill of artisanal comestibles and messenger-bag boutiques?
Bay Area artists Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti — working, and playing, under the collaborative moniker of COLL.EO — are game to try. For “A New American Dream” and “City Blocks,” the collaborators turned images sourced from Google Street View of the homeless on San Francisco streets into picture-postcard-like prints and a child’s toy while reframing and pointing to the oft-seen-but-seldom-foregrounded sights of the city.
The views are further complicated as the pair turn the lens around with a self-mocking “artist statement,” stating, in persona, “I am giving visibility to invisible individuals and that makes me feel good. Look! These people camp on the sidewalk. They have tents and carts. They are a new metropolitan tribe. … All these images truly resonate with me and with my upbringing.”
“A New American Dream” and “City Blocks” appear alongside pieces by Bay Area artists such as Eliza Barrios, Leslie Dreyer and Tom Loughlin in “The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers,” a transbay group show curated by Dorothy Santos. The San Francisco-born critic organized the exhibit around ideas of privacy, surveillance and gentrification by her cohort at the Bay Area Society For Art & Activism: artist Elizabeth Travelsight. The latter’s “security blankets” quilted of materials like bulletproof fabric also appear in the show.
When Travelsight first proposed the concept, Santos, 36, confesses, “My gut reaction was, that’s a challenging thing.
“I think when people think of privacy, surveillance and gentrification, a lot of them will have an understanding that this show is about x, y and z,” she continues. “I had to think creatively around this, to find artists that pair well and provoke a conversation among viewers.”
Santos says she attempted to push boundaries and kick off conversation by selecting pieces like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, an online data visualization, data analysis and digital storytelling documentation of Bay Area gentrification.
“It’s at the nexus of art, design and technology,” says Santos of the site, known for its crowd-sourced maps of displacement and a dramatic time-lapse visualization of Ellis Act evictions. “I think there’s something deep and provocative if you’re using technology to create something sensitive that a lot of people don’t like talking about? It creates talk about what do art and activism look like?”
Apparently, it looks a lot like the viewers—and the makers, as onetime California College of the Arts adjunct professor Bittanti relates his own experiences with displacement. “Aren’t we all outliers,” he says by e-mail, “in an age of neoliberalism and technological determinism?”
If you go
The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers: Random Parts opening reception: 4-8 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Through June 5. By appointment only. Random Parts, 1206 13th Ave., Oakland. (510) 415-8791. www.randomparts.org. Incline Gallery opening reception: 5-9 p.m. May 16. Through June 19. Gallery hours 6-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 1-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Incline Gallery, 766 Valencia St., S.F. www.inclinegallerysf.com.