Jail Cell Residency

current residents: The Something

October/November 2013


About the Residency:
Alter Space’s Jail Cell Residency is a new program offering artists a unique and supportive environment to work deep below the streets of San Francisco. The 1-3 month project-based residency is located in the Alter Space basement, a dungeon-like environment that sits below Howard Street in the SOMA area of the city. The 9′ x 12′ jail cell, located within a 22′ x 25′ room, is the most prominent remnant to be left behind by the BDSM store that previously occupied the building. The cell provides each artist with lighting, a desk and some space to expand one’s process throughout the surrounding basement area. Alter Space will be offering a short term open studio of the work completed during the residency upon each project’s completion. Though it may not offer beach-side views or even wonderful natural lighting, it does provide a very unique, provocative and distraction-free spot for locking yourself into hard work – complete with an endless supply of metaphors for the tortured artist.

In the fall of 2009 I taught a graduate class at CCA called, “Collapse, Romance and Revolution.” The class was designed to get students thinking about how to build a practice that was in dialogue politically with the time and place they were living but avoided becoming didactic, overwrought and neglectful of aesthetic concerns. The students were encouraged to produce work that functioned inter-subjectively and could potentially model new forms of non-hierarchical creativity in shared environments. We read Boris Groys’ Art Power and studied the “revolutionary festivals” of the French Revolution. We also looked to 20th century efforts at collective creativity like the Sun Ra communes in Philadelphia and Oakland during the ’60s and ’70s and the English punk band Crass’ Dial House open community as well as the contemporary work of Thomas Hirschhorn and his Monument projects. Originally I did not intend for the class to develop a collaborative project. The idea “to do something” came from the students about a month into the semester. We thought and discussed what this “something” would be for a few weeks and then decided to bring all the electronic media we could to the next class and let it happen. We had a good time doing this and then met with Kamau Amu Patton’s UC Berkeley class to explore further. These sessions also produced exciting results and we decided that THE SOMETHING should include whoever was in attendance. We would provide the equipment, set it up, and then invite whoever was in attendance to join us. Although the class ended in the winter of 2009, THE SOMETHING has continued to organize performances.
The statement below was written collectively by, THE SOMETHING.
Shaun O’Dell, May 2012
THE SOMETHING has developed as a mode of artistic production that extends legitimacy to ethereal and accidental musings, intersubjective space travel, the sun and/or star, and the pyramids. Many aspects of the project remain invisible, however THE SOMETHING is also a catalyst to unite us in autonomous action/s. It is a political stand – the rebuttal of a compartmentalized and systematic life. A way to voyage in outer-space without necessitating the accrual of rocket-ships. It is a malleable framework that will function as a performative action exhibition, and a coloring book.
A Performative Action Exhibition: We permit ourselves, and those around us, to produce whatever form of sound or action conceivable. We have rediscovered a simple framework. By pairing unadvised freedom with encouraging actions of enjoyment and a loosely structured play environment we achieve an effective mode of public engagement. The format of this action breaks down barriers between the viewer and the producer, it reduces hierarchy and hegemony to miniscule and forgotten notions, and allows us to play with time, space, and some other traditional conceptions.
Where We Began: It began as a conversation. The conversation was about what it would eventually become. From the beginning we were unclear about what exactly it was going to be, which in turn necessitated more conversations. We discussed painting, astrolosociopolitical action, russian constructivism, improvisational modes, The Neverending Story, the general de- and subsequent re-structuring of time and intersubjective space and the related continuum, or the invisible understanding and/or communication we have with and/or without each other. We began with undefined notions, unrestricted boundaries, and one intention or another, the goal being an outcome.
How it works: It works by gathering. Together we organize as parts of a whole. We engage in purposeful misuse of the space and materials at hand. We repurpose them to fit our needs. By pointing our cameras at the images they currently produce we find a portable hole, a way to access the other side of the mountain, by pointing the cameras at ourselves, or others, we capture momentarily a document. We plug everything in at once, this to that to you to me to them to those other area’s where we don’t see. By inhabiting these simultaneous interstitial spaces we become present and produce a conversation between the past and the future, we are teaching new sounds to old techniques and old ideas to new technologies.
A Coloring Book: The coloring book, for many children, is the beginning of artistic production. Its ripped out pages often comprise the young artist’s first solo refrigerator show. This publication functions as a reminder of play and fun and simple aesthetic choice making ability. It offers a chance for those caught up in the “regular world” a moment to stop and simply color, there are no rules to it, the lines are present, but we don’t insist that you color within them.
About the Artists:


  • Alter Space...

    was founded in 2012 by Koak and Kevin Krueger. We offer a multi-use space which currently functions as our studios, a main exhibitions space, printshop, a permanent museum installation called the Bowery, and is also home to the Peephole Gallery.