Maintenance Actions For Dis/Repair

“Maintenance Actions for Dis/Repair” features a collection of archival ephemera that enlivens the history of politics and activism across institutions and art organizations in the Bay Area curated by 500 Capp Street’s 2024 Collections and Archive Fellows Alexander An-Tai Hwang, and Lesdi C. Goussen Robleto. The exhibition will run from July 20 to August 16, 2024.

Borrowing from local archives, including SFAI, SFMOMA, Galeria de la Raza, Kearny Street Workshop, we weave together a tapestry of local interventions and community actions at the intersection of art, politics, and experimentation. Presented in the Paule Anglim Archive room, which once was the basement of 500 Capp Street during David Ireland’s time, we are interested in mining the conceptual and historical conditions of the basement– as land, as thinking space, as source material, as art object– and now, as archive. 

We come to this project during a time of global reckoning and calls to action urging for a ceasefire in Palestine and the end of Israeli occupation. Heeding the call of artists and cultural workers in the Bay Area, who condemn the complicity, silence, and censorship of art institutions and organizations– “Maintenance Actions for Dis/Repair” invites us to meditate on local histories, community actions, and solidarity in the arts.

Through the exhibition, ephemera of the past provoke intergenerational encounters that invite us to revisit how artists, cultural workers, and community members have utilized art to speak out against genocide, apartheid, and US imperialism. Through these connections, we delve into the synergy and tension between experimental frameworks and liberatory praxis, and the discrepant legacies of conceptual art and alternative art spaces from the 1970s to the present. 

“Maintenance Actions for Dis/Repair” takes up the labor of maintenance to recuperate the entanglement between experimental aesthetics and social political practice to uphold the legacies of flourishing activism in the arts. 

Looking toward the future, we ask: How can we expand the narratives of what this house was/ is/ and can be? How can we lean into speculative histories and potential futures within the walls of this space? How might we honor intergenerational resistance, past and present? How can we cultivate intergenerational knowledge against oppression and toward collective liberation? How can we serve as a site that actively resists the censorship of this moment?

Working out of David’s engagement with the basement and the foundation of this house, we anchor in his historical “Maintenance Action”–which involved stripping, sanding, repairing, and sealing the walls to propose a maintenance action of our own, as an intervention into this space, its foundations, and its archive. While David’s maintenance actions preserved the material histories of the house – the cracks, the scratches, the dents – our maintenance action extends outside of the physical structure of 500 Capp St to maintain local histories of activism in alternative art spaces, while questioning the status quo, inviting the public to reckon with what needs to be un-maintained, un-done, and un-repaired.

Images: 1. SFAI student actions in protest of U.S. intervention in Central America and in solidarity with revolutionary moments of the time, including the 1984 SFAI exhibition Artist Call: Against U.S. Intervention in Central America. Courtesy of SFAI Archives 2. 500 Capp street Archival photo of the basement 3. Rachael Romero, Wilfred Owen Brigade, Defend Human Rights in Chile, ca. 1976. Courtesy of SFMOMA Archives.

The 500 Capp Street 2023-2024 Collections and Archive Fellowship is generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.