Contemporary Ruins: excavation site San Francisco

Contemporary Ruins: excavation site San Francisco, an installation under development by artists Daniel Dallabrida and Ida Rödén, presents the findings of a fictional archeological investigation. An audio guide leads the viewer through the artists’ discovery of ceramic ruins and tablets, historical photographs, and contemporary documentation of historical sites. These ruins are set as background to San Francisco’s gay community prior to the crisis years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The focus of the project, however, is to elicit multiple interpretations of these findings through contemporary eyes.

Baker “Bad Boy” Beach

Ceramic slabs

Presented as factual, the artists’ share their initial discovery of a series of unidentified ceramic tablets in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. Their search through archived photographs (1940-1985) leads to the secondary discovery of these markings in the background of a variety of settings—the bars, bathhouses, beaches and other “cruising” sites that served as meeting places and community-building locales for gay men of this era. The audio component follows the artists as they search for the sites presented in the old photographs uncovering and documenting remnants of the ruins. As part of their effort to understand and interpret their findings they record interviews with queer historians, theorists, curators, and artists from both sides of the HIV/AIDS generational chasm.

historical photograph

historical photograph

The project will take the form of an installation and includes a series of large-scale photographs, as well as historical photographs, sculptural ceramic elements, and an audio guide. A lecture series will be build around the findings to discuss queer history, community-building and bridging the HIV/AIDS generational chasm. The artists will present this installation as an archeological discovery, rather then their creation directing attention towards a historical, sociological critique.

Dolores Park public bathroom

Dolores Park public bathroom (detail)

Fort Funston

Fort Funston

Fort Baker

Fort Baker (detail)

Fort Funston

Below: what an installation of the project might look like.

installation proposal installation proposal

  • August 4th, 2014