San Francisco and Paris-based KADIST Curates from a Global Perspective
From a low-key gallery space at the corner of 20th in the Mission, KADIST engages with leading-edge contemporary art culture. A nonprofit organization presenting exhibitions and programming from a progressive, global perspective, KADIST is as much an embodied conversation as it is a gallery space. Artists like Walid Raad, Tauba Auerbach, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Hank Willis Thomas have contributed a range of critical voices to the foundation’s discourse on current issues. Here, director Devon Bella shares insight into KADIST’s mission and current season.
KADIST operates beyond the confines traditional gallery; can you share a bit about its unique program?
In addition to presenting three to four exhibitions a year, the galleries serve as a platform for critical culture by producing events, residencies, commissions, educational initiatives and online content that actively engage with issues of the day. For example, our spring 2017 exhibition, Lives Between, took as its starting point a recognition of the number of international artists working and living between two places; artists who were born in one country and, for a variety of reasons, have crossed borders to live and work in another. The exhibition provided insight into some of the deeply personal and artistic manifestations of mobility.
KADIST is based in Paris–how did the organization come to open a sister space in San Francisco?
Curator Sandra Terdjman and collector Vincent Worms, members of a French family from two different generations, founded KADIST in Paris in 2006. Together they assembled a group of advisors from major institutions to establish and grow a collection of international contemporary art. Worms, who lives in San Francisco, opened the second site with Joseph del Pesco and myself in 2011. We wanted KADIST San Francisco to mirror its counterpart in Paris, starting with collections and residencies, but then we quickly shifted so that it could closely consider and respond to local subjects, attitudes and needs. For example, 2016 KADIST artist-in-residence Mariana Castillo Deball developed an exhibition inspired by the archaeological archives of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Public events and dialogues are central to your mission. What programming can audiences engage with this season?
On October 25th, we will present a program with Burmese visual and performance artist Moe Satt, who will present one of his recent performances for the first time in the United States. His work often uses his own body as a symbolic medium for exploring social and political issues.
Your fall exhibition is particularly tied to San Francisco.
Yes, this month we opened an exhibition titled, The Oracle; the title borrows from The San Francisco Oracle, the countercultural newspaper published in Haight Ashbury during the Summer of Love. The show explores the irrational, ambiguous, infallible, portentous, performative, hallucinatory and around-the-bend—it aims to speak to a future that is not only hard to discern, but already here.
This month we’re also hosting Mexico-based conceptual artist Minerva Cuevas as our artist-in-residence in collaboration with SFMOMA’s new initiative, “Public Knowledge,” a project promoting public dialogue on the cultural impact of urban change. Combining our varied expertise across organizations, respective networks and communities, the goal is to advocate for art’s relevance in contemporary civic life.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Art Beyond Borders.