side by side/in the world
The concept of "sanctuary city" has figured significantly in recent discussions about immigration, whereby sanctuary cities are framed as “pro-migrant,” particularly in opposition to federal policies that seek to limit asylum seeking. San Francisco became a Sanctuary City in 1989, joining a growing movement. The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Galleries’ new exhibition, side by side/in the world, curated by Jacqueline Francis and Kathy Zarur, takes inspiration from this history, and considers sanctuary relationally, both in the places we find it and the ways we make it.
side by side/in the world, takes its title from Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem Sanctuary, which starts with a line that speaks to our shared responsibility in cultivating sanctuary: “I could not disengage my world from the rest of humanity.” The poem frames sanctuary in the small acts of kindness that reflect an attitude of engagement. The artists in side by side/in the world give mark-making new life as a metaphor for renewal, revision and recollecting. In works that investigate histories of exclusion and migration, artists employ processes and materials that suggest healing and mending. Others approach the genre of landscape by transforming it into a poetic, otherworldly space of the imagination that nonetheless maintain a connection to the lived world. The unique formal approaches in the exhibition can therefore be read as metaphors for cultivating sanctuary.
Featured artists: Eddie Aparicio, Esther Elia, Sheila Ghidini, Asma Kazmi, Yoon Lee, Crystal Liu, Lisa Solomon, Lauren A. Toomer, Alberto Toscano, and Pamela Z
side by side/in the world concludes the SFAC Galleries two-year exhibition and public program series featuring artists exploring San Francisco’s status as a Sanctuary City and related subject matter.
Image credit: Asma Kazmi, Building the City of Exiles, 2019. Adam Hutz, Programmer. Virtual reality and sculptures. Courtesy of the Artist.