FAS:Mexican Consulate Project

What is the place of art in a working Consulate? In such a charged and unique context, what issues can art address successfully? How can the Consulate's gallery space become a more visible part of its mission, and how do students create an exhibition in the whole Consulate space? The Mexican Consulate in San Francisco handles passports, documentation for non-legal residents, and other legal issues for approximately 500 people every day that it is open. It also provides programs in education, health, and financial support. How can this 'waiting room' public be cultivated as an art public? Through an exhibition in the Consulate's gallery as well as interventions in the working spaces of the Consulate itself, members of this class will develop ways to integrate visual culture into the everyday. Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez will guide the class through the creative process, forming a working group to develop and present projects during the course of the semester. These could include public interventions, video or written interviews, installations, or creating a public blog. The class will deal with both making and curating the work presented, as well as documenting both process and exhibition for a publication that the group will create at the end of the semester. This publication may also inclass, guiding students through discussions of relevant theory and history to ground the work in the location. The students will be asked to read articles with demographic and contextual information about Mexican migration, social implications of migration as well as about matters of migrant identity. The other theoretical component of the class will deal with critical texts concerning the possibilities and success of socially engaged art; the possibility or non-possibility of agency, and the ethical boundaries of intervening a social space, etc. All theoretical discussions will be accompanied by examples of relevant contemporary artists' works and grounded in the process of making work for the exhibition. Some classes will take place at the Consulate. Over a long weekend during spring break, students will install an exhibition in the gallery and in the Consulate itself which will have its opening reception on April 18th.