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SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Museum of Conceptual Art (MOCA), 75 3rd Street, now redeveloped

Exhibition: All Night Sculpture (Night, 20th-21st April 1973)

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In ’73 there was a show at MOCA called All Night Sculptures, probably the most interesting show that happened there. It was very serious. Nine artists designed work for all night viewing: installations that had something to do with nighttime or performances that went on for twelve hours from sunset to sunrise. People could come at any time during he night to see the show. Every artist had his or her own room.

Mel Henderson built his room into a corner that had a window on one side. There was no door, just a slit to look into. The room was lined with aluminum foil, and outside, visible through the window, were six searchlights aimed at the building next door, which was a parking garage. He lit that building just so you would see it through the little slit.That was really an interesting way to make a space that was about the night.

There was a room in MOCA that had been a ladies’ lounge when the space had been a printing company before I moved in. It was a little room where the women employees would rest or smoke or put on makeup. Barbara Smith chose that room and set it up for her performance. She put a mattress on the floor with a sheet on it. Next to it was a table with incense and oils and fruit and flowers. Barbara was naked on the bed, and a tape recorder kept playing the same thing: “Feed me, feed me, feed me,” over and over again. All night, there was a line outside the door, mostly men. A bare light bulb was hanging outside the door. It felt like a street corner. People went in one at a time to have a private session with Barbara. They had a glass of wine or a piece of fruit with her, or had a conversation, or gave her a massage, or had sex. She took some flack from feminists later. They thought she was selling out. She didn’t interpret it in that way at all. She said it was about how men relate to women.

Terry Fox built a work in the skylight. You climbed up a ladder and into a little space where you were on your hands and knees under a board. After you crawled out from under the board, you realized that it had a sheet on it and was the size of a bed. The moon shining through the skylight was the only light. There was a metal bowl with a big sponge in it that had been soaked in vinegar. Terry called this piece Memento Mori.

Since I was director of MOCA, I could be in the shows only if I was invisible. In this exhibition, my work was presented by another person using his own name. At the time, most people thought it was his art. Frank Youmans was a moldmaker I had met while working in a plaster shop in the ‘60s. I asked him to make a plaster mold of a femake model and then cast it in plaster. It took him all night to do this, and the room he worked in took on the look of a traditional artist’s studio. When he had finished, there was plaster on the floor and the bust of a woman was on the workbench. (Marioni 2003: 100-102)

Curator(s): Tom Marioni.

Participants: Terry Fox, Mel Henderson, Paul Kos, Stephen Laub, Bonnie Sherk, John Woodall, Joel Glassman, Frank Youmans, Barbara Smith.