Our very own Maria Mortati is founder and curator of the San Francisco Mobile Museum - an experimental project that organizes exhibitions, plays with approaches to exhibiting, and explores what it means to be a "museum". Their second exhibit - FREE SHRINES - opens as part of the Exploratorium's After Dark event this Thursday 6pm - that's tomorrow.
FREE SHRINES is a bit of an experiment. Anyone can submit work to an SFMM "challenge" and it will be exhibited. This is a little bit like an open-comment blog where there is no one editing posts before they go public However, Maria does shape the presentation. She creates an exhibit out of the submissions, bringing in considerations about the audience, organizing the work into a larger theme, and mixing traditional interpretive elements with objects made by local participants.
Also in FREE SHRINES is a place for people to add on the spot.
The idea for FREE SHRINES came from everyday life. Maria drives to our office in Oakland and along the way she often sees roadside shrines, and wonders about who those people were, or who was left behind. Then she started noticing her own little accidental shrines around her house: photos from the kids and an object grouped together from a certain era, cards and a statue and a picture of her grandparents. As she explains it:
"I realized a lot of people may have these informal shrines around them. As I researched the world of international and famous shrines and shrine practice, it became clear to me that it is rarely theological, but rather a way to communicate with the intangible- to give it form. Whether it is wish, a remembrance or a reverence."
The SFMM is experimental - each new project and exhibition is a chance to think about a new question or strategy. The whole effort is designed to fit into Maria's car and this transportability, which is at the heart of the whole effort, has been noted by The Center for the Future of Museums as part of a potentially emerging trend for "museums" that are not place-based.
If you are in town, stop by the Exploratorium and say hello. And let us know what you think here!