Following the opening reception in the Walter and McBean Galleries, the public is invited to a conversational encounter that considers The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described from multiple vantages. During this salon, curators Hesse McGraw and Rudolf Frieling, along with Doug Hall, will host a rapid-fire series of contributions by guest artists and scholars that will ignite discussions across disparate fields and perspectives, including psychology, science, performance, media critique, technology, utopia, the sublime, contemporary art, and the legacy of Nikola Tesla.
Amy Balkin's projects, including atmospheric park Public Smog and A People's Archive of Sinking and Melting (Amy Balkin et al.), consider legal borders and systems, environmental justice, and the allocation of common-pool resources. Her work will be included in the forthcoming books Art in the Anthropocene and Critical Landscapes.
Bill Berkson is a poet, critic, and professor emeritus at SFAI. His recent books include Expect Delays and For the Ordinary Artist: Short Reviews, Occasional Pieces & More. He wrote a major article for Artforum on Doug Hall’s The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described when it was first shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1989.
Amy M. Ho builds video and spatial installations that bring attention to our existence as both physical and psychological beings. She received her undergraduate degree in Art Practice from UC Berkeley and her MFA from Mills College. Amy was a recipient of a 2013 San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artists Grant for We Are Only Dust and Shadow, a project about lightning, and was included in Stairwells’ curatorial project for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ BAN7.
Hesse McGraw directs the Walter and McBean Galleries and oversees SFAI’s public programs, visiting artists series, and community education programs for youths and adults. From 2008 to 2013 McGraw served as chief curator at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. McGraw was formerly associate director of Max Protetch gallery in New York, and was the founding director and curator of Paragraph, which operated under the non-profit Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. He lectures widely and his writing has been published in Afterall, Art Papers, Outpost, and diverse exhibition catalogues.
Susan Miller is an independent curator and producer with a career focus on regional art and culture. From 1993 to 2005, she was the executive director of San Francisco’s New Langton Arts. She has organized survey exhibitions and books on Bay Area artists including Daniel Clowes, Tony Labat, Jim Pomeroy, and Jeanne C. Finley. Miller is currently developing a retrospective exhibition and book on Doug Hall that will originate at SFAI. She is the founding associate director of UC Berkeley’s Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research.
Rudolf Frieling has served as SFMOMA's curator of media arts since 2006. Frieling came to SFMOMA from the ZKM Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he held a number of positions since 1994. Most recently, Frieling organized SFMOMA collection-based exhibitions at Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul and the University of Michigan Museum of Art. At SFMOMA, he has organized solo exhibitions of artists Christian Marclay, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sharon Lockhart, David Claerbout, Jim Campbell, Bill Fontana, among others. He also curated the major group survey exhibitions Stage Presence: Theatricality in Art and Media (2012) and The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now (2008–09).
Julia Scher’s work explores issues related to electronic security. Using all sorts of surveillance gear, she constructs temporary, transitory installations and performances in which she captures data and then crunches, alters, and retransmits it, deliberately using and misusing it, and demonstrating its awesome power to exercise social control. Since 2006 she has held the professorship for Multimedia/ Performance/ Surveillant Architectures at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne. Scher is currently participating in SFMOMA’s research program The Artist Initiative.
Doug Hall, The Terrible Uncertainty of the Thing Described, 1987; three-channel video installation with sound, electronics, steel, and Tesla coil; 144 x 360 x 480 inches; installation view: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; collection of SFMOMA; purchased through a gift of the Modern Art Council and the San Francisco Art Dealers Association; photographed by Chuck Mayer; © Doug Hall