Artists try to recognize workers 

"Resistance and Dreams," the second installation in the three-part project "World Factory" at the San Francisco Art Institute, responds to tough issues raised by globalization, including uneven economic development, poverty, urbanization, population displacement, migration and pollution.

The thesis is that the global free-market economy leads to social structures that bind peoples’ lives, create huge economic disparities and present opportunities for people to resist through visions of alternative ways of living.

Organized by SFAI Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs Hou Hanru, the exhibition opens up a space where the audience can have a continuous dialogue with the artists about issues addressed in the works. Hanru says the gallery is a "site of production, a laboratory, and a workshop for exchanges" between artists and audience.

Still photographs, film, video and printed material are presented in the show, an ensemble of sights, sounds and texts that connects experiences of exploitation and dislocation. The works also envision alternatives to globalization, as well as the cultural effects of today’s European- and American-centered art world.

The notion that the past informs the present is central, alluded to by the presence of several works from the first World Factory installment, "Active Witness." Among these works are Michael Blum’s "The Three Failures," a video commentary on Sergei Eisenstein’s failure to film Marx’s "Capital," with a contemporary re-reading of "Capital" in light of common current business practices such as outsourcing.

Laurent Gutierrez and Valerie Portfaix present videos on China’s rapid modernization and its consequences of industrialization and urbanization.

Among the new works is Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre’s "Paisajes 01-04" (2000-2005), a series of images taken from film clips and outtakes of video diaries. These pictures document the lives of two workers in a "maquiladora" (a massive foreign-owned sweat shop in Tijuana, Mexico), who tell personal stories and talk about the poor living and working conditions.

The artists in "Resistance and Dreams" use photography, video and computers to address varied concerns, such as the marginal economies of sex workers, individual and collective workers’ struggles, as well as all workers’ dreams for better labor conditions. They see their art as an intervention, a crucial means for recognizing the struggles of workers around the world.

Resistance and Dreams

Where: Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., San Francisco

When: 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; closes March 27

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 771-7020 or

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Staff Report

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