The Lab is commissioning three ambitious art projects over the next year. Artists Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon, Dora García, and Brontez Purnell will receive between $25,000 - $75,000 each, keys to our space for up to ten weeks, the login for our website, and the option to revise every aspect of The Lab’s operations. We believe that if we give artists enough funding, time, and space to realize their vision, free of any restraints or caveats, the work they produce will change the way we experience the world.
We want the public to experience the ways that artists dismantle familiar systems of perception. Artists Gordon, García, and Purnell alternately engage with how sound and architecture frame hierarchies within public and private space, why mental idiosyncrasies are tied to acts of civil disobedience, and what is canonized or erased from our cultural memory. We want to know how far they can take that inquiry and how much we can bend to make the project of art possible on every level. What happens when their work conflicts with the way that we operate The Lab? How do we make visible the limits of our freedom?
Why is this important?
We think that great art should re-organize us, not the other way around. True to our name, we want to give artists complete license to take risks and push the boundaries of their practice, allowing them to transform and change The Lab with each new project. To this end, we seek out artists who challenge conventional value systems and whose work is often underfunded as a result. This campaign is part of an ongoing effort to empower artists to realize ambitious ideas and to invite the public in on that process.
Who are our artists?
In October, Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon will explore how sound affects emotion. Her installation will incorporate modular architecture, directional sound systems, and webcams that invite the public, as well as professional dancers and sound artists, to manipulate perceptions of space, sound, and authorship.
In November, Dora García will transform The Lab into The Hearing Voices Café. The working cafe will also produce a newspaper and a radio station, with research into psychiatry-related resistance, civil rights movements, and relationships between language, mental idiosyncrasies, literature, capitalism, and art.
In February and March of 2017, Brontez Purnell will produce a documentary film, host public movement workshops, stage guerilla dance performances, and initiate a community-generated archive, all investigating the legacy of choreographer Ed Mock.
What is The Lab?
The Lab is a radical space that seeks to diversify and expand the stories that art tells, rather than simply canonizing them. Our programming runs the gamut of creative expression, from avant-garde literature and performance, to dance, experimental music, and cutting-edge visual art. The Lab is a constantly revised document, a living, breathing entity, and our audience is an essential component of that experience. The Lab has been described as a "haven for the city's experimental performance scene" (New York Times) and “a radical venue dedicated to experimental work” (Wall Street Journal).
With this Kickstarter, we have two major aims:
- To produce groundbreaking projects that would be impossible to mount in a traditional institution.
- To provide artists with a living wage. The Lab will pay nearly $100K in artist fees in this year alone, and it is currently one of only 24 W.A.G.E. Certified organizations in the United States.
During our last fundraising campaign in 2014, commitments from nearly 600 backers helped us “Build The Lab,” returning our space—originally San Francisco’s Labor Temple—to its original ethos and aesthetic 100 years after its founding. Through this massive excavation and re-visioning, The Lab raised over $54,000, which in turn enabled 8,200 individuals to experience over 78 projects in 2015.
Complicity! We want you to be a part of this experiment. The US government currently spends $146 million of its $3.8 trillion budget on culture, a miserly sum by any other G7 nation’s standards. That’s our collective happiness getting the short shrift, so we encourage you to take full advantage of your first amendment rights—and our tax right off—to let Uncle Sam know that we deserve better. In return, you’ll learn how we’ve gotten here and you’ll see firsthand what makes these projects special, and, of course, you’ll be getting some pretty amazing stuff from us and our exceedingly generous community of artists and friends.
Why right now?
We need to change how great art gets funded. Over the past five years, 25% of San Francisco’s nonprofit organizations, along with untold numbers of artists, have been forced to leave the city due to skyrocketing rents. The character of a great city is shaped by its artist communities, and ours is shrinking by the minute. The bulk of what arts funding remains goes primarily to larger institutions that cater to established tastes. While these institutions play an important role in the cultural ecosystem, our mission at The Lab is to support artists whose practice is not easily or often monetized, and to cultivate audiences who are looking for a more radical engagement with art’s possibilities. These artists not only need our support, but they want to know that we are invested in the project of art.
What will your contributions support?
Artist fees. With your help, these extraordinary artists will be able to do the kind of work in San Francisco that they could not do otherwise. Your contributions mean that they can experiment without restrictions, allowing them to create work that upends our ordinary experience of the world.
Thank you from your friends at The Lab,
Director: Dena Beard ; Special Projects Manager: Jackie Clay; Board of Directors: Al McElrath, Perrin Meyer, Alan Millar, Benjamin Petrosky, Jessica Shaefer, Vikki Tobak, Shari Wilk ; Technicians: Joshua Brooks, Michael Goldwater, Anthony A. Russell; Video Editor: Anthony A. Russell; Project Designer: George Carpenter; Photos and Videos of Kembra Pfahler: Walter Wlodarczyk
Risks and challenges
The Lab has been around for 30 years and has hosted countless projects, so we’re well-seasoned at helping artists produce ambitious projects. Since 2014, we’ve made some remarkable changes to our infrastructure, allowing us to remain accountable to our artists and funders while operating with an incredibly small staff. However, we’re still susceptible to the same threats that have displaced so many in San Francisco: rent-hikes, eviction, noise-complaints, funding cuts, and the rapid diminishing of our community of artists. Yet, as one of the last remaining experimental art spaces in a city once known for its experimental art spaces, you better believe that we are fierce survivors and innovative problem solvers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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