Artists & Curators Talking: Wednesday, May 29 at 6:30pm

Twenty-two photographers take on San Francisco. Again.

Artists & Curators Talking: Wednesday, May 29 at 6:30pm
Exhibition Dates: May 4–June 8, 2024
Location: Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott St. SF
Curated and designed by: Maren Levinson, David Peters, Rhonda Rubinstein
Cover photo: Winni Wintermeyer
Access the Press Release here.
Click here for the Gallery Guide.

Come by the Gallery for an evening we call Artists & Curators Talking about the current exhibition SF_retake.  The show contrasts life in the Bay Area circa 2004 with new work by 22 contemporary photographers.  

This is a chance to meet Peter PratoGabriela HasbunJeffrey Braverman, (and possibly others) along with curators David Peters and Rhonda Rubinstein as they discuss the exhibition, their work, images they admire, how photography is changing, and what projects they are excited about. 

Start time is 6:30 pm, Wed May 29th.  Purchase of books and photographs on display will support the programs of the Harvey Milk Photo Center. 

Photographers in this exhibit:
Richard Barnes
Aya Brackett
Jeffrey Braverman
Dwight Eschliman
Beth Yarnelle Edwards
Jim Goldberg
Gabriela Hasbun
Dennis Hearne
Todd Hido
Ed Kashi
Olivier Laude

Laura Morton
Bill Owens
David Peters
Laura Plageman
Peter Prato
Robert Schlatter
Tabitha Soren
Brandon Tauszik
Winni Wintermeyer
Kamal X
Ryan Young

Curators statement

It was 2004, when a small creative team invited 20 established photographers from the art and editorial world, as well as a handful of newly-emerging photographers, to document that post-internet megaboom-to-bust moment in time. Produced as a 152-page glossy magazine, under the imprint of the NYC-based BIG magazine, issue 54 has become a coveted time capsule.

Take two, twenty years later, our world is yet again in the midst of disruptive change. Setting aside the many larger societal issues, the impact of remote work on the character of downtown San Francisco is unmistakable. Virtual and artificial technologies are transforming our words, pictures, and our perception of reality itself. The concerns of AI replacing the need for photographers and their work feels very real – or as real as anything is today.

Still, we believe there will always be a need for a creative force—for an original vision. What does that look like now? As 2024 rolled around, we reached back out to the original contributing photographers, and also to some newer talents. We asked them to show us their personal projects, images that capture an essence of the Bay Area, here and now.

The result we present, visually speaking, is not in magazine form but in the form of a month-long art exhibit. Instead of narrative editorial essays, we are putting forth small collections of artists’ insights and projects.

What we learned during the curatorial process is that a majority of the important photographic voices from the original issue of BIG_54 are still present and viable today and remain leading figures in photography. They are not only still relevant, they are more relevant. They are still guiding our gaze, telling the visual stories of our time.

Meanwhile photography itself has changed and has been changed. Because content is no longer king, it’s not enough to simply tell a story or be present during a world-changing event. After all, we are all camera-carrying photographers. Innumerable transient images fill our social feeds and cloud drives.

Today, a fully developed artistic expression — a perspective and voice that resonates with people on an emotional level — is what is most highly valued. One sees this in artists like Todd Hido, Richard Barnes and Jim Goldberg who have endured, evolved, and remained buoyant over the waves of influencers, technologies and photographic trends of the past 20 years.

In this 2024 collection of images, the change is evident. Fear of earthquakes has given way to fear of fiery air. Skepticism around powerful tech ownership has turned into skepticism around personal data ownership. South of Market club life has morphed into renegade raves in the Oakland Hills. The visibility of gay culture has progressed towards the celebration of trans culture. A covet-worthy neighborhood, historically housing the sunlit Painted Ladies, is seen emerging from the fog of the Sunset District.

Unsurprisingly, new figures are coming into focus. We see more clearly the distinct representation from a diversity of individuals — women and minorities who were not as visible as they are today in the photographic space. They bring a fresh perspective, a sensitivity, an awakening, and an energy that is more reflective of the larger world we see around us. And we believe that these newer voices like Aya Brackett, Kamal X, Gabriela Hasbun, and Ryan Young will continue to emerge and define the next decades.

We invite you to revisit San Francisco. As curators, we recognize that we have not touched on all that deserves to be shared, questioned and discovered about this most beautiful, most political, most precarious, most challenging city. And so we invite you to expand the narrative with your photographs. Please use the hashtag #sf_retake24 to add your voice to the story that is the San Francisco Bay Area. Your story will make ours better. See you in 20.

The curators of SF_retake are:

Maren Levinson is the founder and owner of REDEYE, a photography and styling agency based in Los Angeles, representing a diverse group of artists worldwide. A former photo editor for Dwell, Mother Jones, and yes, BIG Magazine, she’s had a hand in all things photographic for the past 20 years. From curating art shows in LA’s Grand Park, to REDEYE’s partnership with Diversify Photo, she takes a particular interest in democratizing the experience of strong and meaningful photography.

David Peters is a Canadian-born designer, curator and artist who communicates through social practices involving observation, interventions and public participation. Often produced as series, sequences or episodes, he uses media-at-large for installations and performances that comment upon or amplify what being human and humane means in a world of living systems. He has collaborated on projects with Krzysztof Wodiczko, Garry Neill Kennedy, Luc Courchesne, and many other artists, designers, philosophers, filmmakers and writers, including the makers of BIG_54: San Francisco.

Rhonda Rubinstein is a creative director, curator, and writer based in San Francisco. She began her career in New York’s publishing world, working her way up the newsstand to become Art Director of Esquire (with a pitstop at BIG). She is currently the Creative Director of the California Academy of Sciences, where she co-founded the BigPicture Natural World Photography initiative, an acclaimed annual international competition focused on wildlife and conservation photography, currently in its 11th year. Her most recent book on photography, Seeing It All: Women Photographers Expose Our Planet, was released last fall.

Photographs shown above were taken by (from top to bottom):

Olivier Laude: Portrait of Hal Close
Kamal X: WAKE UP
Todd Hido: #12076-9421
Robert Schlatter: 40th Avenue, Sunset, San Francisco, 2023
Gabriela Hasbun: Lilianna

Learn more about these photographers:
Richard Barnes, Aya Brackett, Jeffrey Braverman,
Dwight Eschliman, Beth Yarnelle Edwards, Jim Goldberg,
Gabriela Hasbun, Dennis Hearne, Todd Hido, Ed Kashi,
Olivier Laude Laura Morton, Bill Owens, David Peters,
Laura Plageman, Peter Prato, Robert Schlatter, Tabitha Soren,
Brandon Tauszik, Winni Wintermeyer, Kamal X, Ryan Young

For making this exhibition possible, we wish to thank the Harvey Milk Photo Center, San Francisco Recreation & Parks, Hanson Digital, Hahnemühle Paper (who generously provided the Photo Rag® Baryta paper) and Redeye. Also, kudos to all the originators of Big_54: San Francisco, which in addition to the three curators of SF_retake included Mary Spicer, David Weir, Marc Weidenbaum, Aya Brackett, and Marcelo Junemann, founder of BIG Magazine.