MOURNING IS AN ACT OF LOVE

From altars in our homes to large marble structures in our city centers, memorials and monuments provide a physical space for us to gather and grieve. We mourn because we love.

 

We create intimate and public spaces to remember that which we hold most dear. In this moment though, where connection is so confined to the virtual, we find ourselves struggling to mourn together.  Simultaneously, the debates around memorials and monuments—which should stay, which should go, who we are remembering—have made them lightning rods for the deep fractures in our world.

 

The films, photos, and participatory art in MOURNING IS AN ACT OF LOVE ask us to reconsider memorial making, and reimagine how we build public experiences that are rooted in our histories, acknowledge our grief, and use love to inspire us to work together for our collective future.

 

Please join us at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in SOMA, San Francisco starting  February 14th for this in-real-life complement to the ideas and issues we will engage with virtually throughout our festival. This installation takes place on the exterior walls, windows, and walkways of the YBCA building. The installation is free and open to the public, exclusively outdoors, and social-distancing-friendly. Please wear your mask.

 

Curation by Susannah Smith

 

 

 

WINDOW INSTALLATIONS

Indigenizing Colonized Spaces Collection by Adam Sings In The Timber, courtesy the artist

ADAM SINGS IN THE TIMBER
b.1978, Billings, MT
Lives and works in Berkeley, CA
singsinthetimber.com

Indigenizing Colonized Spaces Collection

Indigenizing Colonized Spaces is a portrait project featuring Indigenous people on stolen land, often the descendants of Native peoples who once inhabited the land before it was colonized.

Ada Pinkston performing LandMarked, courtesy the artist

ADA PINKSTON
b. 1983, New York, NY
Lives and works in Baltimore, MD
adapinkston.com

Landmarked… Parts 1 – 3, a tribute to… (all the women that we know) (2018)
Photographs; Performance Documentation by Chris Chapa;
Courtesy the artist

Landmarked was a series of public performances on empty plinth sites where confederate monuments once stood in Baltimore, Maryland. The performances were performed without a permit and were used for a video installation that considered the stories of black women who are rarely recognized in the memorial architectures in public space.

Collage Portraits of Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson in windows at an art museum

In Mourning and Collage Portraits of Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh installed at YBCA, courtesy the artist

TATYANA FAZLALIZADEH
b.1985, Oklahoma City, OK
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
tlynnfaz.com

Collage Portraits of Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson (2020)
Wheatpaste
Courtesy the artist

In Mourning (2020)
Wheatpaste
Courtesy the artist

In Mourning is a multimedia project about grief and mourning from the perspective of Black people.

a

We Miss You installation, image courtesy the artists

We Miss You (2021);
Multimedia Window Installation
Courtesy the artists

Featuring work by the following artists.

SUSANNAH SMITH: Designer/Producer
b. 1977, Washington, D.C.
Lives and works in San Francisco, CA

MONICA MAGTOTO: Sign Painter
b. 1987, San Francisco, CA
Lives and works in San Francisco, CA
magtotoart.com

In homage to the small businesses closed during COVID, these window paintings acknowledge the community sacrifices and grief associated with shelter-in-place orders.

Monitors on Left:
Streets Under Quarantine Series (2020)
Videos
Produced by The New Yorker
Includes films from Milan, Rome, Paris, New Orleans, Tehran, NYC, Seoul

Scenes from a day of weirdness under lockdown, as cities around the world practice social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Monitors on Right:

Wide Screen divided in two horizontally, top is view out of window to parking lot of brixk building and two women with masks walking, bottom image is taken at floor level of wood floor, white carpet, and table legs.

Still frame courtesy the artist and TRANSFER NEXT

JAVIERA GODOY
b. 1990, Santiago, Chile
Lives and works in London
javieragodoy.com

Circles (2020)
Video, 1:43 min.
Courtesy the artist and TRANSFER NEXT

TRANSFER invites a selection of filmmakers worldwide to share their personal view of changes in both domestic and public space in today’s circumstances. The video essay by Javiera Godoy features recordings made on different days in a car park in front of her apartment, in the middle of total lockdown ongoing in Santiago de Chile since March 2020. In this short film, Godoy shows how the local residents have been creating new “public spaces” from what we might call residual outdoor places, and how this journey has become a cyclical act in small spaces, in a powerful dialogue with the cyclical movements within the limits of her home.

black and white image of New York City skyline with water towers

Courtesy the artist and TRANSFER NEXT

SUSAN HOROWITZ
b. 1950, Richmond, VA
Lives and works in New York, NY
susanhorowitzproject.com

New York Pause… (2020)
iPhone photos & video, 3:26 min.
Editor: Heather Seybolt
Courtesy the artist and TRANSFER NEXT

New York Pause… by Susan Horowitz is a tracking of one quarantine routine in this city of constantly evolving culture abruptly frozen. Weeks are spent viewing layers of urban history from the distance of the high-rise apartment building roof, apartment windows and long walks through the uncanny city. Inside the apartment, hours of compulsive reading about the arts present but closed or cancelled fail to compensate for missing highly valued experiences of city life. The close dialogue between Horowitz’s black & white images and Jason Moran’s jazz creates a very personal view of New York under quarantine, highlighting the strength and beauty of the city as a live theatre set.

Still frame courtesy the artist

MARK RAMOS
b. 1979, Los Angeles, CA
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
markhramos.net

w33p1ng m4dr0n3 (2021)
networked media/synchronous data visualization using AJAX + GLSL + Three.JS
Courtesy the artist

w33p1ng m4dr0n3 is a virtual memorial to those who have died of Covid-19 in California. A virtual 3D model of a native madrone tree is linked in real-time to publicly available health data published by the Covid Tracking Project at the Atlantic. The tree sheds one blossom for each new daily Covid-19 death reported. As the dataset is updated daily, the rate the blossoms fall changes to visualize the currently daily reported Covid-19 death rate among California residents. The lower monitor displays CA’s cumulative total reported Covid-19 deaths since March 2020; the falling blossoms pile up until the current number is reached. The Covid Tracking Project classifies CA as a state with serious data reporting issues. Thus this piece is not just a memorial to those lost, but also a reflection US metric response to the pandemic. 

a poem printed on two doors at an art museum

Image of poem installation courtesy the artist

MICHAEL WARR
b. 1955, Baton Rouge, LA
Lives and works in San Francisco, CA
michaelwarr-creativework.tumblr.com

The City Speaks of This Moment (2020)
Poetry
Courtesy the artist

Photo courtesy Melinda James

MELINDA JAMES
b. 1985, Yuba City, CA
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
melindajamesdp.com

Know That I’ve Enjoyed Sunshine (2021)
Super 8, 16mm, Digital Video, 3:55;
Courtesy the artist

Composed of moments from her personal archive, Know That I’ve Enjoyed Sunshine, is a four-channel video installation exploring the presence of absence. The work looks at the way joy, pleasure, and longing become interwoven in the recalling and remembering of moments passed and the people and places found within them. By looking back at where we have found love, we acknowledge its nuance and almost inexpressible complexity—the weight of something heavy left by all that was good and the acknowledgement for new experiences that will eventually come to fill that space.

 

SIDEWALK INSTALLATION

36 Questions for Civic Love (2020)
Graphic design by Lauren Meranda

nphm.org/civiclove

The 36 Questions for Civic Love toolkit was created by the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM) with the support of Sarah Pharaon, Principal, Dialogic Consulting. NPHM worked with the SF Urban Film Fest to curate a set of 9 questions specifically for this exhibit.

The National Public Housing Museum is the only cultural institution devoted to telling the story of public housing in the United States. Its mission is to preserve, promote, and propel the right of all people to a place where they can live and prosper — a place to call home.

FILM PROJECTIONS

a collage of classical-looking monuments in front of a black background

New Monuments Taskforce, courtesy Cheyenne Concepcion.

CHEYENNE CONCEPCION
b. 1991, Los Angeles, CA
Lives and works in San Francisco, CA
cheyenneconcepcion.com

New Monuments Must… (2021); Digital animation, 1 min; with Bernadette Dia and the New Monuments Taskforce; Courtesy the artists

Before the toppling, vandalizing and collective re-evaluation of monuments from the past, these artifacts scattered our urban landscapes with little regard. Before the Relic Report and the City’s parallel study on the 87 civic monuments under their jurisdiction, these art objects often went unnoticed, felt unrelatable and invisible to many. It wasn’t until 2020’s global pandemic; the death of George Floyd; and the frustration of timeless injustice bestowed on marginal communities; that pushed our society into a collective state of reckoning with of our systems and all that upholds them — monuments included.

With the Relic Report, New Monuments Taskforce set out to do just that: re-examine our civic monuments and the systematic themes which they uphold. In doing so, the Relic Report spurred a public conversation; asking Bay Area residents to reflect on their relationship to monumental relics and what a new wave of monuments could and should look like. Most importantly, we learned what the people of San Francisco (and beyond) want to see in their new monuments. And as a taskforce, we created recommendations, outlining what New Monuments must be.
newmonumentstaskforce.org

Ada Pinkston, a Black woman, poses on top of a pedestal where a Confederate monument used to stand

Ada Pinkston performing LandMarked. Image courtesy of the artist.

ADA PINKSTON
b. 1983, New York, NY
Lives and works in Baltimore, MD
adapinkston.com

LandMarked Part 5… A tribute to Fannie Lou Hammer (2018); Video documentation of performance, 3 min; Courtesy the artist

Landmarked was a series of public performances on empty plinth sites where confederate monuments once stood in Baltimore, Maryland. The performances were performed without a permit and were used for a video installation that considered the stories of black women who are rarely recognized in the memorial architectures in public space.

A person sits on a motorcycle and puts their hand in the back pocket of their partner.

Still from Spirit never dies, only transitions. by Logan Lynette Burroughs. Image courtesy of the artist

LOGAN LYNETTE BURROUGHS
b. 1999, Atlanta, GA
Lives and works in Atlanta, GA
llburroughs.com

Spirit never dies, only transitions. (2019); Video, 10 min.; Courtesy the artist

This body of work serves as documentation of the existence of Black folks and its communities in parts of Atlanta, GA and north Florida. This 10 minute piece displays slow moving Black and White imagery, accompanied by mixed audio of natural and altered sounds, instrumentation, a phone conversation, as well as silence in itself. Despite all the many things Black folks have experienced throughout the centuries, we’ve still managed to keep our spirit alive and moving through time and space. There’s debate (including in the Black community as a whole) about what is appropriate and are traditional practices. Regardless of what negative connotations are placed, these rituals remain generation after generation.

digital illustration of two people with bald heads wearing bandana face masks and kissing

Still from Primavera by Adrian Garcia Gomez. Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank, www.vdb.org, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

ADRIAN GARCIA GOMEZ
b. 1972, Richmond, CA
Lives and works in New York, NY
superadriancito.com

Primavera (2020); iPhone video and animation, 4:57; Courtesy the courtesy of Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Primavera is a frenetic experimental animation that documents the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests as they intersect in springtime Brooklyn. Shot during isolation on a phone, the video explores the effects of imposed distance on touch and intimacy, the proximity of an invisible virus and invisible deaths, and the revolt against the racist, corrupt systems that commodify, exploit and render their most vulnerable citizens disposable.

MELINDA JAMES
b. 1985, Yuba City, CA
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
melindajamesdp.com

THAO NGUYEN
b. 1984, Falls Church, Virginia
Lives and works in Oakland, CA
thaoandthegetdownstaydown.com

Between One World and the Next (2021)
Digital Video, 4:00
Courtesy the artists

Director/Editor/Cinematographer: Melinda James
Musical Score: Thao Nguyen
Producer: Susannah Smith

After visiting our installation, participate in our virtual programs to dive deeper into…

Wisdom Lives in Places: Stories as Catalysts
Is It Enough To Uplift A Voice? How Do We Take Action With Storytelling?

Read more on Medium