Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography
Looking Forward—the second of two consecutive exhibitions celebrating the tenth anniversary of Pier 24 Photography—highlights a selection of photographers collected by the Pilara Foundation over the past decade. With a focus on single artist galleries, Looking Forward demonstrates our belief that exhibiting photographers’ works in depth is the best way to communicate their visions for a given project or moment in time.
Many of the featured photographers address the human condition in the twenty-first century. Tabitha Soren reflects on how we relate to others and the mass media we consume in an era dominated by digital technology. Tania Franco Klein depicts anonymous characters in cinematic worlds pervaded by feelings of isolation and disconnection, where ambiguity undermines any perceived narrative. Todd Hido juxtaposes ethereal pictures of romantic landscapes with scenes of industrial development and devastation caused by wildfires.
Erica Deeman, Zanele Muholi, Eva O’Leary, and Chanell Stone examine contemporary identity politics. Deeman’s portraits of men from the African diaspora speak to the social constructs of identity, gender, and race. Muholi’s evocative self-portraits integrating everyday objects redress inequalities in representation in portraiture by forefronting black, queer, and trans narratives in their native South Africa. O’Leary’s tender portraits of adolescent and college-age women focus on how the self-images of young women—informed by the media and societal expectations—shape their projected identities. And Stone creates intimate self-portraits, still lifes, and landscapes that explore the black body’s relationship to nature—overlooked urban environments in particular—claiming the natural world as a site for reconciliation and reprieve.
Pier 24 Photography’s long-standing dedication to collecting work related to the city of San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area is also prominent. In the reception area, we pay tribute to our location under the Bay Bridge with pictures commissioned by three different photographers—John Chiara, Veronika Kellndorfer, and Richard Learoyd—and an installation of vintage postcards illustrating this iconic structure through the decades. Awoiska van der Molen’s striking black-and-white nighttime scenes and John Chiara’s ethereal skyline views reveal their makers’ unique perspectives on and approaches to San Francisco’s urban landscape. Daniel Postaer’s poignant vignettes of the evolving city and Austin Leong’s wry black-and-white pictures of everyday moments on the street speak to a constantly changing social climate.
The exhibition’s earliest pictures exemplify twentieth-century approaches to working in the urban landscape. Fred Herzog and Ray K. Metzker documented everyday urban life in their respective cities of Vancouver and Chicago, memorably capturing their environs through their distinctive styles.
In 2019, Looking Back, the first of our two tenth-anniversary exhibitions, focused on some of the collection’s key building blocks. Looking Forward demonstrates the scope and focal points of more recent collecting. Together, these anniversary exhibitions consider the collection’s origins, decade-long history, and future trajectory.