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SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), 800 Chestnut Street at Jones

Jose Maria Bustos, Castle to Castle (16th March 1978)

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Description

A single invitation was sent out telling the receiver to arrive at the Art Institute at a given time and the guard on duty that night would direct the person to the bottom of the stairwell of the tower. The tower is seven stories high and has steep ascending steps. The tower was unlit.

On the top landing of the tower a man was seated blindfolded, with half of his face and shoulders stamped repeatedly with his name. A tape player sang out with the sound of bells. From outside the tower, a rope hung three quarters of the way down. One lamp lit the landing.

The guest had to find his way up to the top landing which was lit and he found a camera at his end of the landing and was confronted with the scene of a blindfolded man with his head between his legs and his arms wrapped around his legs. My intention was to work through childhood fears and present-day fears of incarceration by symbolically acting out personal feelings.

The tower presents confinement. The bells ring, dreams thoughts of liberty; the rope, that far-off dream of escape. The fact that it hung only three quarters of the way down made it even less likely that escape would occur. Yet the possibility is never abandoned. (Bustos 1978: 18)