San Francisco: A Tale of Two cities

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San Francisco: Lived In, a timely pop-up installation at ATA Gallery in the Mission District from October 1–30, will feature a series of iPhonic images documenting artist Michael La Rocco’s recent interactions with San Francisco’s homeless.

Instagram: #sflivedin

Artists Life Is Impacted by Homeless Man

Photographer and multi-media artist Michael La Rocco has, like most San Franciscans working in this most expensive of cities, been living in two worlds. One world exists securely behind firewalls, expensive technology devices and regular paychecks, but coexisting right alongside it is the world of sidewalk residents who don’t use Twitter or participate in any other aspect of this shiny new modern world — the homeless.

La Rocco’s current project, San Francisco: Lived In, a month long installation for the ATA Gallery in San Francisco, shows that contrast, and the common ground both spheres inhabit. In a photo series shot on his smartphone camera and further manipulated through a mobile app, La Rocco emphasizes an ironic crossroads between subject and technique.

La Rocco explains his initial idea for the exhibit as “a direct response to seeing my neighborhood, the Mission, which I always felt was the cultural hub of the city, become a gentrified playground. I started asking myself, what happens when artists and musicians and writers get priced out of the city and how does that impact the character of the city? How does it change everything?”

It’s a valid question that La Rocco admits he never quite found an answer to, but found a way to challenge in “San Francisco: Lived In,” a parody of a Gap advertising campaign that he’d seen in the BART station in San Francisco, juxtaposed with a sleeping homeless person right underneath it. Like Margaret Bourke-White’s famous photograph “The American Way,” showing people lined up for food directly in front of a cheerfully illustrated billboard proclaiming, “World’s Highest Standard of Living,” La Rocco’s photos of these station residents draw our attention to their plight by using the very same advertising imagery, the visual language of self-conscious affluence to challenge our atrophying sense of compassion.

Art Show Opening: Wednesday October 7th 6-9pm Find and Follow: |Instagram: sflivedin |


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Carmen Belmonte

Carmen Belmonte
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