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Futurefarmers, a San Francisco–based art collective, creates projects that are diverse both in terms of production and in their strategies of audience engagement. Recent projects include lunchboxes that incorporate hydrogen-producing algae, antiwar computer games, and the Urban Garden Registry (2008), an online map of unused land sites in San Francisco that are feasible for gardening and food production. If anything typifies a Futurefarmers project, it is the balance of both critical and optimistic thought and the use of both inventive and pragmatic design elements. In 2005 the group examined the vanishing art of shoemaking in the installationShoelace Exchange; for the Guggenheim’s Intervals series the group further investigates this craft with a site-specific installation for the museum.
Intervals is designed to reflect the spirit of today’s most innovative practices. Conceived to take place in the interstices of the museum’s exhibition spaces, in individual galleries, or beyond the physical confines of the building, the program invites emerging practitioners to create new work. As an extension of the existing seating on the ground floor of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda, the cobbler’s bench, materials, and shoe racks of a shoemaker’s atelier form the nucleus of a series of events that address the relationship between the sole and the soul. The atelier is an open interpretation of Simon the shoemaker’s studio, of fifth century Athens, in which Socrates had extensive philosophical discussions with Simon and local youth, creating an informal classroom or “thinkery.”
Futurefarmers opens their ten-day thinkery with Soul/Sole Sermons, delivered by contemporary writers in the shoemaker’s atelier. Futurefarmers will also venture outside the museum for more intimate public dialogues with contemporary thinkers throughout the city. The group will collect sidewalk dirt, the main ingredient for a Futurefarmers-made ink. Using this ink, passersby will print transcripts of the Soul/Sole Sermons and the public dialogues by foot in a series of participatory urban actions called the Pedestrian Press.
This new work provides a poetic entry point and tools for audiences to gain insight into deeper fields of inquiry—not only to imagine, but also to participate and initiate change in the places where we live.
—David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies