Fillip

Fillip 15 — Fall 2011

Tammy Rae Carland, <em>Pirate Platform</em>, 2005. From the series <em>Outpost</em>. C-print. 101.6 ! 127 cm. Courtesy of Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.

Forward Looking (Apocalypse Now or Later)
Christina Linden

In the past year the Oakland Standard, a hybrid curatorial and educational initiative of the Oakland Museum of California,1 has presented a series of participatory contemporary art projects that bring together a variety of Bay Area cultural producers. Its events have been organized and led not only by artists, but also by curators, artisans and craftspeople, cooks, farmers, activists, and, in one case, a sheepshearer. The series emblematizes the phenomena of New Institutionalism,2 in which events and programs produced by the education departments of major museums over the last few decades have greatly expanded their institutional reach. At the same, there has been a recent increase (especially in the US) among contemporary art curators working outside of the education department to present endeavours consisting of participatory, discursive, interdisciplinary, and performative formats, as or alongside other artwork on display.3 As part of the Oakland Standard’s event roster last spring, for example, April Ful’s Night took Egypt’s revolution and the Arab Spring as impetus for organizing an evening of free food and events.4 And, throughout the summer and fall of 2011, a four-part series of demonstrations, talks, and screenings on urban farming and related topics under the title Seed Circus was staged by Greenhorns, an organization for young farmers based in the Hudson Valley, New York.nnIn May of 2011, the Oakland Standard, in conjunction with the Curatorial Studies students at California College of the Arts and with support from the FOR-SITE Foundation, presented Hay Fever, “a program about the contemporary back-to-the-land movement” promising a series of projects from which you could “learn (almost) everything you need to know to escape civilization.”5 Under such a directive, the program offered workshops on rope making, wildcrafting, animal attacks, DIY architecture, lacto-fermentation, gold panning, and home leather tanning, as well as square dancing lessons and a homebrew tasting. Romanticizing the notion of escape, which the program invokes, is a problematic if somewhat understandable response to dire feelings of fear and discouragement about contemporary society. Escape is ultimately related to the notion of survivalism, defined as “A policy of trying to ensure one’s own survival or that of one’s social or national group.”6 The survivalist attempt at protecting one’s own group intrinsically opposes the idea of producing social, economic, and environmental structures for common and/or public use, with the latter constituting one of the many uses of the term sustainability. Ironically, Hay Fever was a public event, but the rhetoric that described it was couched in a language of escape, suggesting, even if unintentionally, a veering away from collective use and responsibility and towards personal preservation; a focus not on a sustainability that is social, but rather on individual survival skills and the acquisition of tools for personal preservation.nnHay Fever and Seed Circus, along with a spate of like-minded projects in the Bay Area, caught my eye because narratives of both escape and sustainability are especially urgent today. At the moment current ecological and socioeconomic conditions have left a number of refugees displaced from their places of birth and a sizable percentage of the world population food insecure. In such a context it seems that the notion of displacement, for example, holds more significance than escape, and similarly regeneration or reallocation make more sense to address than sustainability. Given that climate change, economic crisis, and social collapse—among other disasters and precarious situations—have become almost commonplace, cultural projects that promote or advance such notions raise a number of critical questions, especially if survival is equated with escape and sustainability is conceived, increasingly, as a private rather than public venture. These narratives apply a special pressure on the social, and in each case I am especially interested in looking more closely at where access or participation in these narratives and related practices is open and where (and for whom) it is closed. Through questions of accessibility and inaccessibility it is possible to think of these stories through specific activities such as banding together or, equally, the competition for scarce resources.nnLandThe scope of this essay is the examination of a selection of the many contemporary art practices that interface with discourses of sustainability, survival, and the social in the Bay Area. Nonetheless, it is useful to start the discussion by first looking elsewhere. Begun in 1998 and continuing today, the Land Foundation has been around long enough to have garnered both international acclaim and criticism. Founded by artists Kamin Lertchaipresert and Rirkrit Tiravanija, the project, in the most rudimentary sense, consists of shelter and a number of active rice fields on a piece of land sited in the village of Sanpatong near Chiang Mai, Thailand. The design and actualization of the Land Foundation project is more complicated than the basic premise, however, and includes contributions by visiting artists such as Tobias Rehberger, Philippe Parreno with architect Francois Roche, Superflex, and Carl Michael von Hausswolff. In characterizing the project, Daniel Birnbaum, writing for Artforum in 2005, insisted “the Land isn’t a commune in the normal sense, because the artists realizing projects there have done so primarily for the benefit of others. The inhabitants—perhaps ‘users’ is a better term—are a mix of local artists, a few farmers, and a small group of students.”7 nnIt is important to note that the Land Foundation resists easy description and categorization, but despite the difficulty in assessing the project according to the existing representations produced by its creators and participants, Janet Kraynak examines the project anew in the Winter 2010 issue of Art Journal. Here, she focuses on the artists’ stated intention to operate the foundation as a “lab for self sustainable environment,”8 which she weighs against an assessment of sustainability as “embedded with or even a by-product of globalization.”9 Tracing the history of a sustainability discourse that begins with the publication of the Brundtland Commission report to the United Nations in the late 1980s, Kraynak recognizes that the resulting doctrine of sustainability encourages economic expansion and development, often stretching the scope of the term to accommodate any number of contradictory definitions and practices.10 Kraynak looks extensively at distance and openness as two of the Land Foundation’s main tenets: Openness, like collaboration and self-organization, is here presented as a force that operates against economic concepts of property in favor of those of shared community. Harkening back to the “open-land” communes of the 1960s, The Land’s communitarianism depends on such fluidity. Yet this very ideal of an “open” space, as its hosts quickly discovered, was itself hard to maintain. In fact, according to Tiravanija, The Land had to be literally fenced in, as the plants and fruit trees planted in abundance were quickly pillaged by local inhabitants....The fencing is emblematic, however, of the fact that The Land is, for all intents and purposes, a semipublic site...that serves a limited community of individuals who share certain connections, ambitions, or bonds...[and] emerge from...transformed structures and habits of advanced capitalism.11nnThere is no question that a fence can be a means of isolation, but, as Kraynak points out, in the case of the Land, it only materialized an already apparent divide between people welcome at the Land project and local inhabitants—here, recast as outsiders who pillaged (or gleaned) unharvested fruits and vegetables from the insiders, for whom it may have been surplus. It was only in a kind of isolation—at a distance—that the Land Foundation found itself able to develop a “lab for self sustainable environment.” Kraynak contrasts the Land’s situation to that of the “‘open-land’ communes of the 1960s,” to which it is said to hearken. This distance, and the refuge for the cultivation of new models it provides, can be considered doubly: it comes literally in the form of a rural parcel of land, but also as insulation provided by the insider world of art. The combination raises specific questions: Can new strategies for adaptation, restoration, and regeneration be formulated on open platforms? Do open resources ever stay open? And what does this framework mean within the rubric of cultural production, where access is already built on systems of privilege and specialization? nnAirSan Francisco–based artist Amy Balkin offers another potential response to such questions by producing art projects that abut against the very specific borders and obstacles defining which publics have access to land and what resources are set aside for “open” use. For This Is the Public Domain (2003), Balkin purchased “2.5 acres of land bounded on three sides by a wind farm near Tehachapi, California” and set out to establish it, conceptually and legally, as a “permanent international commons.”12 While the work operates through an idea of a shared space, Balkin doesn’t describe her projects as participatory or define herself as a social practice artist.13 Social practice projects often hit upon trouble when the aspiration and rhetoric supporting the expansion of the scope of art beyond a specialist audience aren’t matched in practice. In point of fact, no person or group of people currently inhabit or gather regularly on the Public Domain land, and technical access to the land is difficult at best as no access road or easement to the land is available. So while the question of how social activity would be organized there remains unanswered and difficult to answer, in its current and rather abstract state, the Public Domain land manages to sidestep some of the problems that typically prevent universal address.14 For instance, the project has no limited invitation mailing list; an understanding of the conceptual impulse or theory behind the work is unnecessary for taking advantage of the privilege extended by Balkin’s gesture; and, in real time and space, none of the cultural cues that communicate invitation or exclusion (such as a warm greeting or a cold shoulder, a nod of recognition or a blank stare, at the most basic level) are on offer. nnWhile the idea of open access to land is perhaps easily grasped—even by an audience living within a state or social system where such access is limited—the real, physical, and legal impediments to the plot’s open use remain in place. As already mentioned, no road leads to the commons, and so therefore access is de facto limited even if in theory the land is public. Mineral rights to the land are not secured; thus, legal claims to these rights could be made by the public, but the individuals who might make these claims would require expensive legal services of some kind. And, individuals who don’t hold political rights to enter the United States, while theoretically included in the project, are not in reality able to visit.nnIf the activity that constitutes Public Domain remains only loosely tethered to its physical site, Balkin’s Public Smog (2004–) takes the question of public access to a completely ethereal place. In so doing, however, Balkin presents a more solid exploration of the intricacies of a legal system that works for private ownership of shared resources and against common public use. She takes on cap-and-trade systems that allow entities (facilities, corporations, municipalities, etc.) to exceed quotas set for emissions reductions and then buy unused allowances from other entities. Critical of this market-based control, which theoretically provides economic incentive for emissions reductions, Balkin has inserted herself into the system in order to subvert it. Working with emissions traders in regulated markets to buy up allowances on behalf of the public, she prevents these offsets from being used by other entities that would actually emit the pollutants they would have been entitled to produce. Calculating the approximate volume of air that would contain the amount of nitrogen oxide or carbon dioxide offsets purchased in trades through two different emission offset markets, Balkin has established parks available for public use in the unfixed airspace above the coastal zone of California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, as well as over the European Union. “Public Smog,” she points out, “fluctuates in location, subject to prevailing winds and the long-range transport of aerosols and gasses.”15 nnThere is no question that the systems Balkin navigates in order to administer these projects are complex and specific, and while her rhetoric may appear at first glance to present an unchallenged notion of “the public,” it should be clear that she is as much interested in asking about just exactly who is and is not allowed to participate as she is in expanding and defending the domain of the public and the commons. Her work provides specific, concrete answers about what legal and economic boundaries impinge access and use. nnFood & WaterQuestions of immediate social interaction and participation in art projects, however, become complicated in a more direct sense of the social when we begin looking at work that brings groups of people together in time and space to share land, resources, and/or skills. Enter OPENrestaurant, a Bay Area collective made up primarily of cooks and artists that produces events centred on the collective preparation and consumption of food in art spaces. Jerome Waag, Sam White, and Stacie Pierce are all restaurant professionals who work together in Berkeley at Chez Panisse, the landmark restaurant founded in 1971 by Alice Waters, which pioneered California cuisine as driven by organic, locally produced food. In 2008, the group came together to form OPENrestaurant and subsequently “moved their environment to an art space as a way to experiment with the language of their daily activities.”16 The events became a kind of social sculpture opening up dialogues about sustainable food production over and around shared meals in a casual atmosphere. The first meals OPENrestaurant served took place at the now defunct New Langton Arts, and subsequent (and increasingly more elaborate) events were staged at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, California College of the Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. nnIn November of 2010, the collective organized a weekend of meals, talks, performances, and art around the theme “OPENwater” at St. Georges Spirits’ Distillery, a former airplane hangar in the disused Alameda Naval Air Station, with the support of the Education and Public Programs Department at SFMOMA, under the rubric of Rebecca Solnit’s project Infinite City: Poison/Palate.17 Admission to the installation and series of events was free, but drinks, small plates, and primary meals required tickets purchased at the door. The menu included a grass-fed beef burger lunch meant to bring attention to its water footprint by including produce all sourced from the local lower Sacramento watershed and a “no-salmon salmon dinner.”18 The dinner featured cioppino made with fish (other than salmon) caught by fisherman who might have previously fished salmon instead. It also included sardines caught along the Chinook salmon run and pickles made with ingredients also sourced from the run.19 nnArtists Amanda Eicher, Valerie Imus, and Rosie Branson Gill of 18 Reasons, a “non-profit engaging the community through food and art” located in the Mission district of San Francisco, curated TheTank, a nook for conversations, panels, performances, and artwork. A panel discussion about the plight of the Chinook salmon took place with scientists and policy makers. TheTank also encompassed approaches more nuanced than direct conversation about salmon, such as Lauren Marsden’s performance Bureau of Reclamation (2010) or the installation Phytoplankton Bloom: Isochrysis, Nannochloropsis, Desmodesmus, Tetraselmis (2010) by Denise King, who is an artist, scientist, and also the senior exhibition designer in the Life Sciences Department of the Exploratorium, a San Francisco science and art museum. Near the middle of the cavernous room, Jerome Waag, Oakland-based Hyphae Design Lab, and Marisha Farnsworth collaborated to construct a system of pipes and chutes that included, at the top, a giant hunk of melting ice—meant to represent the melting snowpack that feeds the Mokel­umne River and its watershed—and a central dishwashing station with a temporary greywater phytoremediation pond at the bottom. Hyperaccumulators—plants that remove contaminants, in this case primarily detergent, from the system’s runoff—were installed as an example of a system of remediation that normally requires a long-term commitment for effective results. Only one element in an elaborate and multivalent approach to the topic at hand, the visibility of the water system made it clear that one of the aspirations of the weekend’s events was to serve as a model and example for effective technologies and procedures for responsible and sustainable use and remediation of natural resources. The labour of the person washing the dishes, normally hidden away in the back of a restaurant, was also on display, front and centre. Within an event that relied heavily on volunteer labour (within an industry—the art world, not food service—that relies heavily on such unpaid labour), it was the dishwasher that made me wonder about what other kinds of footprints the event was registering: labour and economic footprints, for instance. The grass-fed burger lunch cost thirty dollars and the no-salmon dinner ran sixty-five. If the cost of the meals accurately reflected the cost of assembling this temporary restaurant/museum/forum, what would the price tag read?nnLooking honestly at the true cost means there are real limits about who can afford to participate in consumption as well as in production. (And I would argue the same for all cultural production.) It also means there are real limits to the potential audience for which the models produced are viable. No doubt the project was intriguing and instructive for those who were able to take part. No doubt scope and audience are always already limited. There are certainly roads that lead to this warehouse in Alameda, but in the end this comes back, for me, to questions of access that go beyond the purely physical, geographical, or legal definitions. How can we weigh the means that go into a forum against the audience it is able to reach as participants and spectators? Where are we fostering public sustainability and where does spectacle begin to foster private escape, instead? In what cases do we need to create a feeling of insulation and familiarity and how does this impact how open or closed these platforms become? nnShelterThis last question, especially, fell into a different sort of relief for me when I visited the San Francisco–based Queer Cultural Council’s 2011 annual visual arts exhibition. It used the index of the Whole Earth Catalog as a point of departure and inspiration for its theme and title, QIY: Queer it Yourself—Tools for Survival.20 Not surprisingly, under the index categories of “Land Use/Dig it” and “Shelter/Sheltering,” the exhibition featured work by several artists that examine the legacy and possibility of land projects, separatist or otherwise, the most compelling of which was Tammy Rae Carland’s photograph Pirate Platform, Fancyland (2005). The photograph features a primitive tree house: made of a wooden platform, a tarp is strung above it and hangs from a ring of supporting trunks, giving berth to a brass model ship and sporting a jaunty red flag with a slightly enigmatic skull-and-bat-wings motif. At the QIY exhibition, the photo was accompanied by an array of materials from Carland’s personal “Feminist Back to the Land Archive” from the 1970s and ’80s, including flyers and several issues of the journal Country Women, as well as the book Lesbian Land edited by Joyce Cheney. nnPirate Platform belongs to a series of photographs entitled Outpost, which presents contemporary documentation of improvised architecture and armatures from historic lesbian, feminist, or queer enclaves from around the United States. By focusing on physical structures—a ring of “Port-O-Janes” at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival or two faded posts once painted with rainbow stripes flanking the driveway at Womanshare in southern Oregon, for example—Carland turns attention to the structures that enable people to come together and live together rather than the individuals that constitute these communities. In this sense, she is representing rather than constituting the social. The series serves as a poignant reminder, though, that these structures, and the social structures that accompany them, were built because of the pressing feeling that there was something special to be fostered by creating safe havens. People oppressed in society at large could come together and revel in their womynness, their lesbianhood, their queerness. Ariel Levy describes this utopian urge in the March 2, 2009, New Yorker article “Lesbian Nation” about the Van Dykes, a roving band of lesbians who travelled North America by van during the 1970s, visiting Women’s Land along the way: There was a time, briefly, when women ruled the world. Well, their world, anyway. In the late nineteen-seventies, several thousand women in North America decided not to concern themselves with equal pay for equal work, or getting their husbands to do the dishes, or convincing their boyfriends that there was such a thing as a clitoris. Why capitulate, why compromise, when you could separate, live in a world of your own invention? On the fringes, utopian separatists have been part of the American story since at least the early eighteenth century—the Shakers, in New England; the millennial Rappites, in Pennsylvania; the Oneida Perfectionists, in upstate New York—and these women decided to turn away from a world in which female inferiority was enforced by culture and law. Better to establish their own farms and towns, better to live only among women. This required dispensing with heterosexuality, but many of these women were gay, and, for the rest, it seemed like a reasonable price to pay for real independence.21nnThe Van Dykes no longer roam the highways and many (although certainly not all) of the land projects they would have visited dissolved alongside the popularity of strategic essentialism, more broadly.22 But the movement embodied (and, for some, still embodies) the radical/utopian possibilities of pooling resources and energy for creating a space and culture in splendid isolation from the norms of mainstream culture.nnCommunityI came into this writing project thinking about an apparent distinction between sustainability and survivalism. Blame it on billboards announcing the forthcoming Judgment Day on May 21, 2011,23 or blame it on the subsequent passing of that date with nothing more momentous than a series of Rapture parties thrown by atheists and skeptics looking for a good excuse to dress in alien costumes. A set of assumptions and exaggerations about this dichotomy are aptly captured by a series of comments to a blog post I stumbled across early in my research titled “How apocalypse makes us dumb, and the futility of survivalism.” The first comment comes from a blogger identified as “V”: Any critique of survivalism should kinda that [sic] the only real difference between “sustainability” and “survivalism” is one has guns and has a more individualistic, self-deterministic view of what independence from material conditions means.24nn“Klintron” added this response: Sustainability is about problem solving, survivalism is escape....Sustainability is about empowering individuals. Survivalism is about isolating and insulating individuals. While the sustainability movement is busy trying to invent new agricultural and energy infrastructures, survivalists are hiding the from [sic] the world, terrified that someone is going to steal their can of beans.25 nnUltimately, the distinction here seems to come down to a question of sustainability as a mode of inclusion and survivalism as a mode of exclusion and defense; or, to sustainability as a continued belief in the possibility of progress and survivalism as a will to weather the last moments before the conclusion of history. But the binary is easily unhinged. Survivalism can encompass both militant Christian enclaves26 (the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, for example) and pot growing/hippie/Back-to-the-Landers. And while both might be tied to idealism and community, they are also implicated in white flight.27 Skills useful for surviving out in the country—growing one’s own food, DIY craftivism, etc.—are becoming increasingly popular among an affluent and urban set of participants.28 As Jeff Derksen puts it, “the movement from concept to [urban] policy is bound up with affect” in such a way that it, for example, “deflects critique of sustainability as an accumulation strategy and moves away from the social justice question of sustainable urbanism.”29 “Sustainability” is deployed for the cause of greenwashing as often as it is used in support of regeneration, preservation, and human rights. It is a term that seems to hold more traction in developed countries where people are the most accustomed to reliance on systems that exploit scarce resources.nnIf the distinction between sustainability and survivalism can be scrapped, perhaps it can be replaced by a productive tension between inclusion and exclusion as partially outlined by Public Domain. Within the space of contemporary art practice, terms like efficacy and community are impossible to hold up to any sort of qualitative standard. Nonetheless, we can continue to ask about the resources we pour into projects framed as art in comparison to the scope of the models they produce, especially where a rhetoric of sustainability is built in at the foundation. What means went into this production? Who is this for? What does it do? What do we learn? Sustainability must be understood as operating within the environmental, the economic, and the social. We might also frame this in slightly different terms according to Bruno Latour, who insists that the networks are “simultaneously real, like nature, narrated, like discourse, and collective, like society.”30 On the platforms we create with socially engaged artworks that take up sustainability as discourse, form, or content, are we just banding together as insiders? And, are we sharing or competing for the scarce resources at hand?

Notes
  1. Funded by an Irvine grant, the initiative had its opening party on February 4, 2011 and will run through the middle of 2012.
  2. For a definition of New Institutionalism, see Sven Lütticken, “Once More on Publicness
: A Postscript to Secret Publicity,” Fillip 12, Fall 2010, 87. “Far from privileging exhibitions, the new type of institution ‘instead places equal emphasis on a range of other functions,’ especially research, discourse, and education” (quoting Alex Farquharson).
  3. Where social practice and New Institutionalism can be seen as linked to or descendant from relational aesthetics, we might consider Maria Lind’s introduction in “The Collaborative Turn,” in Taking the Matter into Common Hands (Stockholm and London: Iapsis and Black Dog Publishing, 2007), 21: “Relational aesthetics was widely debated in the mid-1990s in Scandinavia, France and The Netherlands,” it was given “a delayed, but intense reception in the United Kingdom and the United States.”
  4. See “April Ful’s Night,” The Oakland Standard, accessed June 15, 2011, http://www.museumca.org/theoaklandstandard/april-fuls-night. Artist Amanda Eicher; artist, curator, and creative administrator Valerie Imus; and chef Jerome Waag of the Citizens Laboratory worked together with the Middle East Children’s Alliance to put on a goat roasting, live music performances, a panel discussion, and spoken word recitals.
  5. “Hay Fever,” The Oakland Standard, accessed June 15, 2011, http://museumca.org/theoaklandstandard/hay-fever.
  6. Oxford English Dictionary online version, accessed May 15, 2011.
  7. Daniel Birnbaum, “The Lay of the Land,” Artforum, Summer 2005, 270.
  8. “About the Land,” The Land Foundation, accessed August 13, 2011, http://www.thelandfoundation.org/?About_the_land.
  9. Janet Kraynak, “The Land and the Economics of Sustainability,” Art Journal, Winter 2010, 20.
  10. See Kraynak, “The Land and the Economics of Sustainability,” 21, citing especially Robert Gibson, Selma Hassan, Susan Holtz, James Tansey, and Graham Whitelaw, Sustainbility Assessment: Criteria, Processes, and Applications (London: Earthscan, 2005), 52–53.
  11. Kraynak, “The Land and the Economics of Sustainability,” 24–25.
  12. Matthew David Rana, “Social Work: Politics, Police, and the Law in Art,” Part 1, “In the Eyes and Ears of the Law: On Giving Voice to the Voiceless,” Art Practical 1.6, http://www.artpractical.com/feature/in_the_eyes_and_ears_of_the_law_on_giving_voice_to_the_voiceless/. See also Thom Donovan, “5 Questions (for Contemporary Practice) with Amy Balkin,” Art21 (blog), posted on February 17, 2011, http://blog.art21.org/2011/02/17/5-questions-for-contemporary-practice-with-amy-balkin/.
  13. Conversation with author on August 7, 2011.
  14. In addition to the Land Foundation, a number of other contemporary land-based art projects that do involve actual physical access and interaction provide productive alternative studies of the specific possibilities and limitations involves. Just a few examples include Mildred’s Lane in Pennsylvania, High Desert Test Sites in California, and PLAND (Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation) in New Mexico.
  15. Amy Balkin, Public Smog (PDF book), http://lulu.com/product/file-download/public-smog/1155009, p. 11. Public Smog is available for free download at the above address. See also http://publicsmog.org/.
  16. “What Is OPEN?” Open Restaurant, accessed August 6, 2011, http://openrestaurant.org/.
  17. See “Infinite City: Poison/Palate and OPENwater,” SFMOMA, accessed August 6, 2011, http://www.sfmoma.org/exhib_events/events/1755 and also Brian Andrews, “OPENwater, OPENrestaurant, Nov. 13–Nov. 14, St. George Spirits” and Twilight Greenaway, “Serving, Cooking, Giving it Away: Food, Art, and the Places in Between,” both in Art Practical 2.5, http://artpractical.com/issue/the_food_issue/.
  18. A ban on commercial fishing of salmon has been in place for the last four years in order to encourage the regrowth of a diminishing population.
  19. “Infinite City: Poison/Palate and OPENwater,” SFMOMA.
  20. “QIY: Queer It Yourself—Tools for Survival,” SOMArts, last modified May 26, 2011, http://www.somarts.org/qiy-queer-it-yourself-tools-for-survival/.
  21. Ariel Levy, “Lesbian Nation,” New Yorker, March 2, 2009, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/02/090302fa_fact_levy.
  22. See, for example, Kathy Rudy, “Radical Feminism, Lesbian Separatism, and Queer Theory,” Feminist Studies 27, no. 1 (2001), 190–222.
  23. These billboards were installed by Family Stations, Inc., a Christian radio station based in Oakland, California. The billboards presented the image of a man crouched in silhouette against the sunset, his hands clasped in prayer. The sign included the text: “Cry mightily unto GOD for his MERCY!” and a seal exclaiming “THE BIBLE GUARANTEES IT!” The American Atheists posted a counter-campaign; aping the style of the doomsday billboards, these read: “The Rapture You KNOW it’s Nonsense, 2000 Years of Any Day Now. Learn the Truth at our Rapture Party May 21–22.”
  24. V, January 1, 2009 (10:49 pm), comment on Klint Finley, “How Apocalypse Makes Us Dumb, and the Futility of Survivalism,” Technoccult (blog), December 31,2008, http://technoccult.net/archives/2008/12/31/how-apocalypse-makes-us-dumb-and-the-futility-of-survivalism/.
  25. Klintron, January 1, 2009 (11:55 pm), comment on Finley, “How Apocalypse Makes Us Dumb.”
  26. A longer discussion of this Christian enclave and the contemporary movements it has influenced is examined in the documentary film Silhouette City (2008–09), by Michael Wilson and Natalie Zimmerman.
  27. For a discussion of white flight and the Back-to-the-Land movement, see the interview with Bruce Anderson in “Back to the Land,” Cometbus 48 (self-published zine), 33.
  28. See, for example, Lisa Wallace, “4-H Clubs Flourish with Crop of Urban Locavores,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2011, http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/11/HOQJ1K7MTU.DTL.
  29. Jeff Derksen, “How High Is the City, How Deep Is Our Love,” Fillip 12, Fall 2010, 16.
  30. Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 6.

Image: Tammy Rae Carland, Pirate Platform, 2005. From the series Outpost. C-print. 101.6 ! 127 cm. Courtesy of Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.

About the Author

Christina Linden is a freelance curator based in Oakland, California. She has spent the past year working as Curatorial Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, after completing her Master’s Degree at the same institution in May of 2009.

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