SAN FRANCISCO, CA.-
From November 5, 2011, through February 20, 2012, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
presents The Air We Breathe, a thematic exhibition that brings together commissioned work by 30 contemporary visual artists and eight poets who, for this project, explore issues surrounding the cause to legalize same-sex marriage from various perspectives.
The Air We Breatheits title drawn from a Langston Hughes poemis organized by SFMOMA Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Apsara DiQunizio, and the exhibition is accompanied by a large-format illustrated book project featuring a commissioned essay by Eileen Myles that responds directly to the artist contributions. Additional texts by Martha Nussbaum, Frank Rich, and DiQuinzio provide context and background on the topic.
The exhibition is presented salon style on SFMOMA's second-floor landing, with works on paper by Laylah Ali, D-L Alvarez, Simon Fujiwara, Robert Gober, Raymond Pettibon, Amy Sillman, Allison Smith, and 23 other artists interspersed with new poetry by John Ashbery, Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, Ariana Reines, and Anne Waldman, among others.
"Equality is in the air we breathe," wrote Langston Hughes in Let America Be America Again, a poem from 1938 that still resonates today. Over the last decade, equality for same-sex couples has proven one of the country's most pressing civil rights issues. Under current law same-sex couples are denied certain protections granted to male and female couples, including, in most states, the right to marry and to marriage's attendant protections.
DiQuinzio says, "Art has the ability to rupture entrenched ways of thinking, to shift paradigms, and to open up dialogue in situations that seem resolutely fixed. It's my hope that the book and related exhibition will spur dialogue and create interest not only among followers of contemporary art and members of the LGBT community, but for the broadest public possible."
Since 2004, when former Mayor Gavin Newsom first issued a directive to allow same-sex weddings to take place in City Hall, San Francisco has been a focal point for this issue. California was initially among the now six states to have legalized same-sex marriage; however, with the passing of Proposition 8 in 2008, that ruling continues to be contested. As a leading cultural institution in the region, SFMOMA has organized a creative approach to the issue: a publication intended as a catalyst for dialogue and an exhibition that will provide a dynamic space for the reexamination of a subject in desperate need of creative attention.
Visual artists in the exhibition include Laylah Ali, D-L Alvarez, Doug Ashford, Nayland Blake, Jennifer Bornstein, Andrea Bowers, Robert Buck, Johanna Calle, Martha Colburn, Sam Durant, Shannon Ebner, Nicole Eisenman, Simon Fujiwara, Liam Gillick, Robert Gober, Ann Hamilton, Sharon Hayes, Christian Holstad, Elliott Hundley, Colter Jacobsen, Matt Keegan, Carlos Motta, Catherine Opie, Nicolás Paris, Dan Perjovschi, Raymond Pettibon, Amy Sillman, Allison Smith, Lily van der Stokker, and Erika Vogt.
Poets include George Albon, Will Alexander, John Ashbery, Dodie Bellamy, kari edwards (poem selected by Frances Blau and Rob Halpern), Kevin Killian, Ariana Reines, and Anne Waldman.