February 22, 2010 - Geography of Transterritories
February 22, 2010

Geography of Transterritories

Ursula Biemann
Sahara Chronicle
Video still
Courtesy of the artist

Geography of Transterritories
Michael Arcega
Ursula Biemann
Claire Fontaine
Carlos Motta
Société Réaliste

February 25 – May 22, 2010

Curated by Hou Hanru



Opening reception: Wednesday, 24 February 2010 from 5:30 to 7:30pm
The opening reception will be followed by a panel discussion with the artists at 7:30pm in SFAI’s Lecture Hall.

Walter and McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
Tuesdays–Saturdays, 11:00am–6:00pm
Free and open to the public



Geography of Transterritories addresses those issues of transborder conflict that are profoundly changing global modes of production, communication, and space/time organization. Such changes have prompted new understandings both of geography and of the geopolitical strategies devised for coping with the new reality of constant displacement and transit. Traveling between different parts of the world or stuck in intermediate zones like refugee camps, displaced persons and populations now live in spaces—transterritories—to which the once-commonplace concept of home no longer unambiguously applies.

Temporary-seeming but often enough permanent, such transterritories and the peoples who occupy them have come to challenge the established boundaries of nation-states and other dominant forms of geopolitical demarcation. Though undergoing economic, political, and military oppression and exclusion, transterritorial peoples, whether intentionally or as a matter of course, establish and occupy sites that are intrinsically open to new possibilities for social, economic, and political restructuring. A potentially salutary effect of what otherwise can seem to be systematically detrimental global processes, the space opened up by the “transterritorial imagination” is a space singularly amenable to the realization of certain forms of utopic social production. Geography of Transterritories marks but one instance of many similar creative projects on the current global art scene—inside exhibitions, at conferences, within publications, and across public spaces—in which the ideas and phenomenological “facts” that underwrite the transterritorial imagination are unfolding.

Like the spaces and peoples whose ways and means have motivated it, the work included in Geography of Transterritories was itself created by a process of displacement, by territorial prerogatives that “cross over.” Consistent with SFAI’s transnational vision for understanding how museums, exhibition spaces, and wider contemporary culture interrelate on a global scale, Geography of Transterritories—like the exhibition World Factory that preceded it in SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries (January–May 2007)—is a component of New Models of Production, one of five discrete yet intersecting directions, within SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs, for investigating current constructions of contemporary global culture.

Devised by SFAI’s Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs Hou Hanru, New Models of Production examines and promotes innovative models of art production—models that lead to new definitions of art and of the role the artist may play in an era of globalized culture. This exhibition is also a forum and point of departure for further creative interventions in the public sphere—interventions that are essential to understanding contemporary creativity and current geopolitical, organizational, and global realities.

SFAI’s exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. Geography of Transterritories is made possible through the support of swissnex San Francisco, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, CulturesFrance, and the Cultural Services of the Consulate General of France in San Francisco.

San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art in the US. Focusing on the interdependence of thinking, making, and learning, SFAI’s academic and public programs are dedicated to excellence and diversity.

SFAI’s School of Studio Practice concentrates on developing the artist’s vision through studio experiments and is based on the belief that artists are an essential part of society. It offers a BFA, an MFA, and a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Design and Technology, Film, New Genres, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture/Ceramics.

SFAI’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies is motivated by the premise that critical thinking and writing, informed by an in-depth understanding of theory and practice, are essential for engaging contemporary global society. It offers degree programs in Exhibition and Museum Studies (MA only), History and Theory of Contemporary Art (BA and MA), and Urban Studies (BA and MA).

SFAI’s Dual Degree MA/MFA program is ideally designed for students who seek a deep and balanced immersion in both theoretical discourse and art practice. A three-year commitment, the degree consists in an MA in History and Theory of Contemporary Art and an MFA in any area of study within the School of Studio Practice (see above).

For more information about this exhibition or other public programs at SFAI, please go to www.sfai.edu or call 415 749 4563.

For information (including important dates) about graduate, post-baccalaureate, and undergraduate admissions at SFAI, please go to www.sfai.edu/admissions.

San Francisco Art Institute

Geography of Transterritories
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