Through November 19 - Frozen World of the Familiar Stranger at Kadist SF. For this thought-provoking group show at Kadist (co-presented with Khoj International Artists' Association in New Delhi, where it moves directly after it closes here) curators Sitara Chowfla and Heidi Rabben explore the concept of the "familiar stranger," as first defined in 1972 by social psychologist Stanley Milgram:
"Nothing is more characteristic of urban life than the fact that we often gain extreme familiarity with the faces of a number of person, yet never interact with them...The faces and the people are treated as part of the environment, equivalent to the scenery, rather than persons with whom one talks, exchanges greetings."
The works in the exhibition, drawn from a satisfyingly global set of artists, perfectly capture how these familiar strangers in our lives can bring a certain sense of comfort to our daily routine but can also heighten our sense of alienation from those around us since we never actually connect with them. That poignancy is also communicated in a poem by Himali Singh Soin, whose live performance of her piece Radar Level I was fortunate enough to catch on Saturday afternoon:
We think like an island. We are both our bodies and the water that we resist.
We are made from an explosion and also an erosion. We are delusional.
We die and every time, our souls rise up with a little more clarity.
We wake up to take the oblique journey back to the shore.
We are deserted in the world's noisy grief
and still, we are the stillness. We are not the bomb in Baghdad,
not even the omelet station on a Sunday.
We are the finite area and the infinite perimeter. We are opposite like that.
A half-life of love mixed with time running out,
trying always to give it word so it stays —
Trying always to stay — far enough from its radiation so it never withers
like the cornerstone of Kaaba is withering from the multitude of
kisses lain upon it. To think like an island
To grip the magnitude of the flood.