September 12: Abramovic, Piaf songs, and more S.F. events 

French cabaret and jazz singer Patricia Kaas, singing the songs of Edith Piaf, performs at the Masonic Center.
  • French cabaret and jazz singer Patricia Kaas, singing the songs of Edith Piaf, performs at the Masonic Center.

Who's in town

Marina Abramovic, a pioneer in performance art, appears in conversation. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. [7:30 p.m., Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes St., S.F.]

Lectures

Muslim women: Four leading Muslim women in the Bay Area discuss community, activism, media stereotypes and Islamophobia. [5:15 p.m., World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter St., S.F.; RSVP: www.imow.org]

California food: Top California food minds and highly rated chefs explore how food has evolved over the decades and discuss their own contributions to California cuisine. [6 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

Imitating nature: Speakers discuss biomimicry — the imitation of the systems of nature in order to solve human problems — and how corporations and communities are employing it. [6 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

Literary events

Barbara Solomon: The graphic designer, landscape architect, writer and artist presents "Why? Why Not?" [6 p.m., Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, S.F.]

Patricia Engel: The novelist reads from "It's Not Love, It's Just Paris." [7 p.m., Green Apple Books, 506 Clement St., S.F.]

Gregg Hurwitz: The novelist talks about "Tell No Lies," his latest thriller. [7 p.m., Books Inc., 74 Town and Country Village, Palo Alto]

Tom Barbash: The locally based writer talks about "Stay Up With Me," a story collection. [7:30 p.m., Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F.]

Jerry Mander: The author and activist talks about "The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System." [7 p.m., Building B, Room B-301, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.; RSVP: dollymr1@att.net]

At the colleges

Art reception: "Energy That Is All Around," an exhibit of work by five artists who began their career in the Mission district in the early 1990s, opens with a reception. [7 to 10 p.m., San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., S.F.]

At the public library

Sci-fi film: Program presents "Source Code," Duncan Jones' dramatic film about a soldier who wakes up in a stranger's body and learns he's on a mission to find a train bomber. [4 p.m., Visitacion Valley Branch, 201 Leland Ave., S.F.]

Gary Soto: The author and poet reads from "What Poets Are Like: Up and Down With the Writing Life." [6:30 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., S.F.]

French singer

French cabaret and jazz singer Patricia Kaas, singing the songs of Edith Piaf, performs at the Masonic Center. [8 p.m., Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California St., S.F.]

Local activities

Art auction: The Coalition on Homelessness presents its 2013 art auction and fundraiser. The evening features artwork, food and drink, live jazz, and raffle prizes. [5:30 to 10 p.m., SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St., S.F.]

Improv theater: The San Francisco Improv Festival, celebrating the art of improvisational theater, begins. Tonight's acts include Chick Flick and Huge. [7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.]

Indie rock: The indie-rock band Ra Ra Riot performs at the Fillmore. "Beta Love," which has a synthpop sound, is the group's latest album. [8 p.m., 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.]

Elite Cafe: Chef Jerry Mendoza cooks Cajun-accented fare. The steamed mussels with smoked tomatoes, fennel, spicy sausage, and saffron broth is a recommended starter. The hand-cut herbed pappardelle with braised beef, Kalamata olives and smoked tomatoes is a highlighted entree. Also look for the seafood gumbo (a signature dish), the biscuits and the house cocktails. [2049 Fillmore St., S.F.; (415) 673-5483]

Music

Symphony concert: The San Francisco Symphony presents Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1" and other music. Guest artist: pianist Yefim Bronfman. [8 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.]

Nightlife

Electronic evening: NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences hosts the kickoff of the Francisco Electronic Music Festival. Live music, installations and demonstrations are on the bill. [6 to 10 p.m., 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.]

Comedy

Standup: Comedian, actor and voice artist Chris Hardwick performs. His credits include "Web Soup," "Wired Science" and "Chelsea Lately." [8 p.m., Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., S.F.]

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