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SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

1499, Portrero Avenue

Community Crossroads (the farm) (1974-1980)

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Description

The Farm is a social art work and incorporates the divergent fields of all the arts and literature, education, appropriate technology, community service, public health, the environment, economics, city planning and real estate. It is a vehicle for connecting life scale elements of physical form, spirituality (feeling states), and ideas, all of which are interconnected. The whole farm is a metaphor for civilization. It is a microcosm. The Raw Egg Animal Theater (TREAT) at The Farm is a microcosm of The Farm, and so on. And because The Farm is really small and framed, you can see a myriad of different relationships struggles, differences, similarities, and coincidings. You can see large swelling forms and very flat shapes – technological and non-mechanized. The Farm is a painting and a theater piece. It’s a play, a sculpture, and a sociological model. There are also elements of plumbing. The Farm has to do with finding a way to survive and making it wonderful. (Sherk [1979] 1981 in Frye Burnham 1981: 60-61)

I guess one of the things everyone knows about The Farm is that it’s a farm in the middle of a bunch of freeways. How did you find the site for it?

Well, there were several things that led me to this site. One thing has to do with when I was a child of about the age of six. There was this recurring dream that I had, that I loved to conjure up … It was the image of large, monolithic, technological, clanging forms. Inside of them would be a growing fragile flower, just a single flower. It was this incredible contrast that was very much a part of me, and I was fascinated by this image, and I would … literally conjure it up at night, and dream it. I don’t know where that came from. […] The Farm was like an explosion and implosion of elements – a synchronistic, magical coming together. It was an obvious opportunity to integrate all of these ideas that I had been working on and researching, and experiencing, and create a vehicle that would connect them. It was instantaneous knowing. And I was also, at the time, very interested in exploring new ways of working, and was very interested in collaborating, and working with people from different kinds of environments, backgrounds, classes, economic situations, and cultures. I felt that it was very important to create The Farm as a vehicle for connecting physical and conceptual fragments, for bringing together people of all ages from different economic and cultural backgrounds, people of different colours, and then people in relation to other species. The Farm was the product and process of hundreds of people. It emanated as part of a collective unconscious – a partial solution to urban and cultural errors – some of which were very specific to the site. So you really had this grand design from the very beginning? Absolutely. You can look at the drawings that I made in 1974. (Sherk and Burnham 1981: 58)

Curator(s): Bonnie Sherk

Participants: Various.

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