Visitors enjoy the 2011 MFA Graduate Exhibition at the Winery SF on Treasure Island.

Public Events

SFAI Summer Symposium
Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 9:00am - 5:00pm

Pre-Symposium Event » Friday, June 20
Graduate Lecture Series with Anna Shteynshleyger
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco,

Face It: Photography, Ethics, and Identity in the Age of the Selfie

Summer at SFAI kicks off with an annual symposium addressing current topics in contemporary art and criticism. Convening artists and scholars from diverse disciplines, this year’s symposium Face It considers the relevance of photography in today’s image-saturated world.

Eventbrite - SFAI Summer Symposium

Social media prompts us to put ourselves on display, textually and photographically. We share ourselves with strangers and friends, perpetually documenting not only life’s milestones but its quotidian moments as well. This obsession may blur—or sharpen—the lines between the authentic versus performed, enacted versus documented. The life examined becomes the life lived on screen.

The symposium will consider this contemporary condition, asking: How does social media complicate the relationship between action/event/self and image? What are the political implications and ethical obligations that arise in a world of incessant and instantaneous images? How do current art practices refract, resist, or incorporate the ubiquity of images and connectedness? What exactly does “photography” mean today?



Friday, June 20  
6:30 pm Pre-Symposium Event » Graduate Lecture Series: Anna Shteynshleyger
Saturday, June 21  
9 am Coffee
9:15–10:30 am Welcome » Dr. Rachel Schreiber, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Keynote » Dr. Martin A. Berger, Professor in History of Art and Visual Culture and Associate Dean, Arts Division, University of California, Santa Cruz

10:30–10:45 am Break
10:45 am–12:30 pm
Session 1 » “Building Reality: Technology and the Uncanny”

Introduction by MFA artist, followed by three 15-minute presentations and a 30-minute Q & A

Panelists: Ken Goldberg; Aziz + Cucher (Guest Faculty and Artists in Residence, Low-Residency MFA in Studio Art); Alexis Hudgins

12:30–1:30 pm Lunch
1:30–3:15 pm
Session 2 » “Facing Each Other in Real Time”

Breakout discussion groups led by MFA artists

3:15–3:30 pm Break
3:30–4:45 pm
Session 3 » “Self(ies) and Surveillance: Performing, Displaying, and Documenting Bodies”

Introduction by MFA artist; led by Miki Johnson

Panelists: Miki Johnson; Patricia G. Lange; Anna Shteynshleyger (Graduate Lecture Series artist)

4:45–5 pm Closing remarks
5 pm Reception and artist/curator conversation in the Walter and McBean Galleries, featuring current exhibition Wrong’s What I Do Best 



Aziz + Cucher, guest faculty and artists in residence, Low-Residency MFA in Studio Art
Ken Goldberg
Alexis Hudgins
Miki Johnson
Patricia G. Lange
Anna Shteynshleyger



Martin A. Berger

Since the nineteenth century, photography has been lauded for its power to engage audiences and promote social change. Photography, we are told, moves us to feel and, ultimately, act by granting us access to people and conditions outside of our day-to-day experiences. In allowing us to make emotional connections with other human beings, photography has long been seen as a vehicle for pushing us toward more ethical positions. This talk considers the historical investment of theorists, photographers, and members of the public in photography’s purported power to engage its audiences and catalyze progressive social change.

Dr. Martin A. Berger is Professor in History of Art and Visual Culture and Associate Dean of the Arts Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography and Sight Unseen: Whiteness and American Visual Culture, both from University of California Press.


Get the latest news about the panelists, real-time updates leading up to the event, and see who else is attending the SFAI Summer Symposium.

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Anna Shteynshleyger
Apple Girl, 2013
Archival pigment print
50 x 40 inches
Courtesy of the artist