The Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary celebrations this weekend includes an extremely unique art exhibition organized by the For-Site Foundation at Fort Point. For-Site Foundation has previously organized similar exhibitions, such as Presidio Habitats at Fort Scott in the Presidio last year. Entitled “International Orange” after the official, iconic color of the Golden Gate Bridge, is comprised of seventeen commissioned artworks and installations by fifteen international artists inside the three tiers of the Civil War-era Fort Point directly under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The two monuments have a very special relationship, essentially bookending the history and culture of San Francisco and the Bay. The history of the two major landmark are commented upon by many of the artworks on view. Allison Smith’s Fort Point Bunting, 75 swags of bunting along the three tiers is the first striking artwork seen when visitors walk into the fort. This strong Civil War, 19th century imagery also incorporates the International Orange to Safety Orange colors, the number 75 for the Bridge’s anniversary, and also contemporary stories of military servicewomen behind each bunting swag. Smith also curated a small display of Civil War trench art in the barracks: large ammunition casings decorated with flowers and local imagery. Also on the first tier is Bill Fontana’s impressive sound recordings of the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point: a wonderful cacophony of cars, wind, people and boats traversing the waterways and landmarks. Anandamayi Arnold’s Fiesta Queens is a beautiful set of seven vibrant crepe paper costumes (six representing the countries who helped build the bridge) in the style of the Fiesta Queens who presided over the festivities of the Golden Gate Bridge’s opening in 1937. The dresses are also reminiscent of a style common during the Civil War, and by their very nature occupying the space, the masculine mood of Fort Point. (More below!)
Many other artworks refer to the Bridge itself and its relationship to the San Francisco Bay and ecosystem. Cuban artist Abelardo Morell’s two impressive artworks reflect upon the Golden Gate Bridge and the landscape around it. Morell uses two different kinds of camera obscurae for his two artworks. The first is a tent camera, which superimposes landscape views and its flora upon an image of the Golden Gate Bridge. The second, called “Vertigo” is an actual camera obscura installed into the Fort in one of the many dark alcoves along the third tier. The camera obscura reflects the outside panorama onto a large white cube. However, as camera obscurae do, the reflection is upside down, challenging our accustomed viewings of the Bridge– literally turning it upside down. Film enthusiasts will also appreciate the double meaning of the title, “Vertigo.” An integral scene from the 1958 classic was shot outside Fort Point. Camille Utterback’s Span, comprised of monitors arranged on the ground in a curvilinear pattern, roughly mimicking the shape of the tip of the peninsula where Fort Point was bulit, display animated renderings of the water flow patterns and and the historical shifts of the Bay’s shoreline, water currents, and sea floor. Artist Pae White creates an incredibly beautiful tapestry in the International Orange color that aims to capture the ephemeral quality of the iconic San Francisco fog that habitually rolls into the Bay, enveloping the Golden Gate Bridge. The tapestry spans the length and width of the barrack in which it is installed, further offering the viewer a moment in the space to experience the particular intangible mood created by the fog when it is here.
“International Orange” A FOR-SITE Foundation project at Fort Point will be on view May 25–October 28, 2012. Check the website for visiting hours.