- August 1 - September 14, 2019
- 3:00 am
In 2011 Anne Bluethenthal, former faculty member in the MFA Program at CIIS, founded Skywatchers, a multidisciplinary performance project in which residents of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood work collaboratively with professional artists to create works that draw on the histories and concerns of the residents. Now entering its ninth year, the Skywatcher Ensemble has made more than 30 original performance works about the complex, often heroic, usually urgent challenges and experiences of its participants.
In 2017 artist and Skywatcher collaborator, Deirdre Visser created a simple studio set up in the corner of 509 Gallery on Ellis Street at Leavenworth, right in the heart of the neighborhood. For one month she opened the gallery several afternoons each week and invited Tenderloin residents in to make a self-portrait. The set up was simple: halogen shop lights, a white sheet, a digital camera on a tripod, and full-length mirror. The subjects were handed a digital remote, and this series is the result.
This project allowed its participants to depict themselves, a practice of self representation taken for granted in the selfie-era. By creating the portrait setting, Visser invites participants to step in front of the camera to show themselves as they wanted to be seen—strong and stoic, laughing and jubilant; some posed themselves performatively, and others simply stand gazing into the camera. Portrait-takers were able to bring their own props, costumes, and even loved ones for inclusion in their photo shoots.
Gratitude to Darryl Smith and The Luggage Store Gallery, and Seth Dickerman at Dickerman Prints for their support.