ABOUT THE PROJECT

Sites Unseen is a fiscally-sponsored public art project of the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD) that will enhance the Yerba Buena neighborhood’s reputation––and, by extension, that of the San Francisco Bay Area––as an internationally-acclaimed arts hub by developing its alleys as thriving cultural destinations for diverse audiences.

Sites Unseen is working with local community partners and cultural institutions to bring dynamic arts programming to seven underused alleys in the neighborhood in the form of permanent and temporary artworks, performances, screenings, and other happenings. The alleys––Annie, Clementina, Jessie East, Lapu Lapu, Minna, Natoma, and Shipley Streets––will provide a platform for both local and national artists at all career stages to showcase work within a unified curatorial framework. Sites Unseen will activate these neglected areas by fostering social interaction, community pride, and economic opportunities while increasing visitors’ exposure to the arts.

THANK YOU to everyone who supported our KICKSTARTER campaign, which was successfully funded on March 2! The $25K we raised will enable us to continue working with local and international artists to bring exciting new public art to San Francisco.

See you soon in the alleys!

CURATORIAL FRAMEWORK

Living Space: Art In The Alleys


Alleyways play a unique role in the urban landscape. They are secondary places, existing on the periphery of daily life, at times leading somewhere, at times leading nowhere, removed from the insistent pace that characterizes the thoroughfares and sidewalks of downtown districts. Most of us pass the mouth of an alley or side street and keep walking, staying on the main roads that will take us where we need to go as directly as possible. Alleyways evoke a sense of digression, mystery, and sometimes danger. They conjure up ideas of covert encounters and hidden histories, and also suggest the potential for discovery and new experiences off the proverbial beaten path.

Living Space: Art in the Alleys reconsiders the role of the Yerba Buena district’s alleyways, positioning them as places of respite and reprieve where one can elect to opt out of the collective forward momentum and take a moment to simply exist in place. The project will bring together a variety of artists and cultural producers to explore what this kind of ‘living space’ can mean in the contemporary urban environment, inviting them to create site-specific works that in some way respond to the needs of place. Living Space encourages the exploration of ways in which various forms of artistic practice can inhabit neglected public spaces, transforming them from ‘leftover’ or ‘lost spaces’ into dynamic, multi-use ‘living spaces’ that foster social interaction and community pride as well as offer exposure to the arts for diverse audiences.

Living Space is based on the central idea that art does not merely respond to place; it is also essential in producing a sense of place. The project is shaped by concepts including the (re)integration of the natural environment in urbanized spaces; the resurrection of forgotten local histories via the investigation of cultural, sociological, and architectural vestiges of the neighborhood’s many past incarnations; and the creation of new site-specific narratives informed by recent shifts in local demographics and by the proliferation of development initiatives in the area. Local and national artists will be asked to respond both to the specific conditions of the sites as well as the cultural values and dialogues that inform these sites’ identities.