I’ve always loved the word defenestration. My fourth grade teacher Ms. Hallacker used to say it when kids in the class didn’t behave the way she wanted them to but since we were fourth graders we didn’t know that defenestration meant being thrown out of a window. Since it was only boys she would yell, I’m going to defenestrate you! and the word rhymed with castration we all assumed the worst. Every boy understands castration for some reason.
This memory leads me to a building at 6th and Howard that has been an art project since 1997. This date surprised me since I felt like it had been there much longer than that. Brian Goggin created the work and now the city is having talks about demolishing the abandon building with furniture and appliances stuck all over the outside. It’s a sparse minimalistic work that unfortunately [in my mind] doesn’t live up to it’s potential. The best way to see it is from the street which means that you have to drive by it or get hit by cars and that only gives you a few seconds to take in the bizarreness of the place.
Your other option is to stand across the street or right underneath some of hangings, but then you can’t really take it all in at it’s best. The objects stuck onto the side of the large building are rather small and appear at times to get lost in the wash of despair of the emptiness of the abandon building. Geez, I’m beginning to sound like an art critic now. I suppose college did pay off for me.
The city is debating whether or not to demolish the building possibly to replace it with mid-market condos. No one’s saying what might go there yet, but the sad story is that to many destroying public artwork will bring the area up. Not so much for the artwork, but the fact that it’s art on a decaying building that could get more use than being an empty shell. If you think about it, it’s probably one of the most expensive artwork installations in the world given what San Francisco real estate goes for even in the bad parts of town.
I tried to do some digging to get more information on the piece, but other than a sparse website, like the artwork itself it’s tough to find anything. I was hoping that Herb Caen had something to say about it, but he died just before the piece was finished, though I won’t make any correlations between the two events. Overall I think it is a piece of art that has outlived its time in San Francisco and if it were to reappear then I think they should find a smaller place where you could add more stuff falling out of windows and better viewing angles to encourage people to be able to appreciate it more.