0touch_featureTouch: Relational Art from the 1990s to Now
October 18 – December 14, 2002
San Francisco Art Institute

Touch: Relational Art from the 1990s to Now, an exhibition and series of artists residencies and public programs that I co-organized with guest curator/critic Nicolas Bourriaud, included an international roster of artists associated with “relational aesthetics,” the title of his now much-debated article from 1990. Touch featured sculptural, installation, and performance by Angela Bulloch, Liam Gillick, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joseph Grigely, Jens Haaning, Christine Hill, Carsten Höller, Ben Kinmont, Laurent Moriceau, Jorge Pardo, Philippe Parreno, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Gitte Villesen and Andrea Zittel, many of which encouraged viewer participation or social interaction. Several of the artists in the exhibition were in residence during the exhibition. For instance, Rirkrit Tiravanija created an active, convivial social interaction with visitors through the preparation of a Thai curry meal. For the opening weekend Christine Hill offered guests a hand-printed poster featuring a slogan describing their experience of the exhibition. Joseph Grigely engaged in series of conversations with the public at a local café while Ben Kinmonts continued a project he started in Kassel at Documenta 11 in which he knocked on doors and interviewed as many North Beach neighbors as he could during his stay in San Francisco. Bourriuad’s selection of artists for this exhibition reflected his categories of different forms of relational art, including those that encourage participation and transivity, connections and meetings, convivialities and encounters, collaborations and contracts, and transformation of gallery spaces. Bourriaud proposed that by systematically transforming everyday activities outside of their mundane and private spaces artists initiate new relations––and new aesthetic contexts––as art becomes a frame around actions and events are connected to everyday existence, not merely separated from it. While he was visiting curator at the Art Institute, Bourriaud lectured to the public, conducted studio critiques, led a Touch roundtable with artists Joseph Grigely, Christine Hill, and Ben Kinmont and co-taught a seminar with me on the history of social interaction in art. By systematically transforming everyday activities outside of their mundane and private spaces, these artists initiate new relations––and new aesthetic contexts––between artist and onlooker, and art and the world. Bourriaud proposes that such new relations create what he calls a social in-between space as art becomes a frame around actions and events connected to everyday existence, not merely separated from it.

Click here for a pdf of the exhibition brochure.

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