Six Sensational Ocean Views, a set of playful and thought-provoking ruminations on la mère la mer, features an afternoon of talks and performance by Nicole Archer, Torreya Cummings, Carolyn Finney, Kathleen Graber, Nicole Hernandez Hammer, and Chani Nicholas. This event is organized by Frank Smigiel, associate curator, performance and film, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
As Smigiel notes of the exhibition, “The works on view in la mère la mer often cut the elemental to human scale. Few of us get to sail on open water or experience the ocean as something immeasurably vast, so the image in the show of the sea-as-mother fits our experiences shaped by a land’s edge: beach resorts, sand castles, and boardwalk rides.”
The speakers in Six Spectacular Ocean Views look then to the infrastructures, economies, and imaginations of human life straddling land and sea. Art historian Nicole Archer highlights the evolution of swim wear in the 1960’s, particularly through the avant-garde designs of Rudi Gernreich and his “monokini.” Sociologist Carolyn Finney considers the racial imagination of the “great outdoors,” and who can occupy places like the beach. Poet Kathleen Graber invokes the rhythms of resort towns through her hometown of Wildwood, New Jersey. Climate scientist Nicole Hernandez Hammer looks at the future of Miami’s neighborhoods and that of coastal cities around the globe. Astrologer and activist Chani Nicholas weighs the metaphors and inspirations of water signs. And artist Torreya Cummings concludes the evening with her performance Sailors Signaling Other Sailors, a meditation on human contact and crossing distance.