Shotgun Reviews

Citydance at Kadist Art Foundation

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Marion Cousin reviews Citydance at Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco.

Francis Alÿs. Railings, 2004; still from film, 9 min 15 sec.

Francis Alÿs. Railings, 2004; still from film; 9:15.

The organizers chose not to reveal much beforehand; the only instruction was to meet at the Kadist Art Foundation at 7 sharp. Inspired by City Dance, Bay Area dancer and choreographer Anna Halprin’s 1977 performance that unfolded in over nine locations in San Francisco, Citydance featured nine videos projected around the Mission district on two occasions. Anne Lesley Selcer punctuated each video by reading one of her poems on the first night, and Stephanie Young did the same on the second night. For both evenings, the locations were as varied as the selected works and highlighted the juxtaposition of one city’s image onto another. For example, at the corner of 20th and Harrison Streets, Francis Alÿs’s Railings (2004) was projected on the bottom of a wall underneath the metal fence of John O’Connell High School; the video animated the space with the sounds of the artist dragging a stick across different railings in London.

Even though each person had a map, the group simply followed the route without really knowing exactly where the next video would be projected. This feeling of uncertainty added an exciting element to the event. The tour was quite adventurous. Before leaving, Kadist director Joseph del Pesco announced that they did not obtain permission for some of the locations.  In order to watch Jon Rubin and Lee Walton’s Playing Apart (2011), the group had to pass through a gate into a small, empty, almost wild field, increasing this feeling of interdiction. Both nights ended with a final video screened at the Kadist’s space at Folsom and 20th Streets, followed by a talk with the artist. On the first night, Dara Friedman’s Dancer (2011), in which 60 performers danced around the city of Miami to multiple musical genres, cast a vibrant ambiance over the entire evening. Javid Soriano’s Factotum of the City (2013), a documentary that follows a former world-class opera singer living in destitution in the Tenderloin, concluded the second and last evening. A short conversation with the artist followed, although no words were necessary to translate the poetry, beauty, and tragedy of this film. Through the unexpected locations and uncertainty over whether or not the event would be shut down, Citydance offered a different way to look at and walk around a part of our city. Its configuration also allowed an audience that was just passing by to be part of the adventure.

Citydance took place at the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco, and in various locations around the Mission district on September 25 and October 23, 2013.

Marion Cousin is an independent curator. After starting her career in France, she moved to San Francisco in Fall 2012 to undertake an MA in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts. She is the cofounder of doubleBread, an art organization based in San Francisco.