San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to announce that Zarouhie Abdalian, Josh Faught, Jonn Herschend, and David Wilson are the recipients of the 2012 SECA Art Award. Established in 1967, this biennial award honors individual achievements of Bay Area artists through an exhibition, an accompanying publication, and an honorarium.
The award is sponsored by the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA), an SFMOMA art interest group, and is intended to support artists who are working at a high level but have not yet received substantial museum recognition.
The exhibition for this year’s awardees will take place beyond the walls of the museum in the fall of 2013, during the construction period for SFMOMA’s major expansion project, which is slated for completion in 2016. For this unique iteration of the award, the museum will commission new work to be presented at various locations in the Bay Area—a first in the history of the award program—as part of SFMOMA’s extensive off-site programming. SFMOMA Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Jenny Gheith and SFMOMA Assistant Curator of Media Arts Tanya Zimbardo considered more than 250 artists working in a broad range of media and selected 15 finalists who received studio visits and the four winners.
Zarouhie Abdalian works with the specifics of a site to create subtle interventions into everyday perception. Often bordering on the edge of invisibility, her minimal installations alter understanding through small shifts in sight or sound. Through her research into the history and physical features of a location, she focuses on simple adjustments such as measuring the sonic vibrations of bass shakers in the walls of an exhibition space with a plumb bob, making a window flutter with mylar, or illuminating an abandoned building with lights set on timers.
Josh Faught’s work mines the rich histories of craft in sculptures that pair traditional textiles and homespun techniques such as loom-weaving, knitting, and crocheting with everyday objects that reference domesticity, political slogans, or kitsch. Collaged together in a patchwork-like fashion, fabrics such as hemp or recreations of the AIDS quilt are situated next to shiny sequins or campy buttons. These labor-intensive sculptures draw on histories of gender and sexual politics and precariously balance an urgent sense of anxiety with a nostalgic view of the present.
Jonn Herschend’s videos, installations, and performances humorously question how we interpret the validity of information by utilizing the formats of corporate messaging such as PowerPoint presentations, infomercials, and educational videos. A recurring theme in his work is the literary device of the unreliable narrator who turns Herschend’s site-specific fictions into personal and confused dramas that implicate the viewer in seeking to find the reality of a situation. Recently commissioned short films have taken the framework of institutional messaging and identity as the point of departure.
David Wilson has orchestrated many large site-specific gatherings at locations such as Angel Island, Bolinas Beach, and the Marin Headlands. Under the moniker “Ribbons,” he often announces these events through hand-delivered invitations that include folded maps with hand-written directions and elaborate sketches that are used to guide attendees to intimately composed situations and interventions. From his large-scale performance-based events to his one-on-one exchanges with readers/visitors, Wilson often synthesizes the talents of his wide community of musicians, filmmakers, and chefs.
Recent SECA Art Award recipients include Mauricio Ancalmo, Colter Jacobsen, Ruth Laskey, and Kamau Amu Patton (2010); Tauba Auerbach, Desirée Holman, Jordan Kantor, and Trevor Paglen (2008); Sarah Cain, Kota Ezawa, Amy Franceschini, Mitzi Pederson, and Leslie Shows (2006); Rosana Castrillo Díaz, Simon Evans, Shaun O’Dell, and Josephine Taylor (2004); and John Bankston, Andrea Higgins, Chris Johanson, and Will Rogan (2002).
Top to bottom: Zarouhie Abdalian, Set for the Outside (detail), 2010; Josh Faught, It Takes a Lifetime to Get Exactly Where You Are (detail), 2012; Jonn Herschend, Nothing Happens for Long (production still from the video), 2011; David Wilson, Maps and invitations collection (detail), 2006–12.