One Beach Plastic, for here or to go, 2021; plastic collected at Kehoe Beach and ceramic dishware; Part of the exhibition Lands End, organized by FOR-SITE. Image courtesy FOR-SITE. Photo: Robert Divers Herrick
Lands End at the former Cliff House
by Barbara Morris for Articultures, February 7 ,2022
The FOR-SITE Foundation, founded in 2003, has taken on the unique project of mounting exhibitions of immersive, site-specific installations set in some of the Bay Area’s national parks. With memorable exhibitions including 2012’s International Orange set at the imposing Fort Point, followed by 2014’s @Large:AiWeiwei at Alcatraz housed in the stark and unforgiving former prison, our relationship with the ocean, nature, and the environment, coupled with concern for human rights and freedom of expression, have long been at the forefront of their mission. Other exhibitions have dealt with thorny issues such as the needs for shelter, safety, and security.
The latest in this series is Lands End, curated by FOR-SITE’s executive director Cheryl Haines, which takes the site of the former Cliff House restaurant—vacant since 2020—as a point of departure for the work of 26 artists and artist teams from around the globe. With its spectacular vistas and precarious perch, the work is brought to our attention in a setting that dramatizes it and also holds it at a distance, our attention torn between the interior and the exterior. The show, Haines states, “invites visitors to wade into an immersive environment where their charge is twofold: to discover artwork in unlikely places and to consider the planet’s health.”
This is my second visit to the site, the former Cliff House, an iconic SF restaurant and ballroom—which I somehow managed to completely avoid during its lengthy history of providing dining with a spectacular backdrop to countless SF natives and tourists alike. The first Cliff House was built in 1863, and was destroyed and rebuilt twice, the rambling structure is perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on a bluff, quite literally the land’s end. On my previous visit, a clear day, the jaw-dropping views outside distracted me from focusing on the art for some time. This time, SF has been socked in and the coast is still blanketed in wispy fog. Crashing waves on rocks outside still beckon. With such a large show, I intend to give just a taste of the work, installations which stood out the most to me. As I am getting my bearings and juggling my pen, notebook, and other belongings, another visitor remarkably precisely echoes my initial sentiment, that “it’s hard to know whether to look inside or outside…” Well, perhaps it’s not so remarkable, given the show being put on in the bluffs.
Continue on Articultures site HERE