Curatorial Research Bureau
Curatorial Research Bureau
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Janet Delaney: South of Market

Nov 1–30, 2018
(free and open to the public)

Photo documentation

Our third Case Studies exhibition uses our current place as a launching point with the help of the photographs of south of market in the book Janet Delaney: South of Market which were taken between 1978 and 1986. Delaney lived and worked in the South of Market neighborhood (62 Langton Street), the short block bracketed by Howard and Folsom streets and 7th and 8th streets, not far now from upscale coffee bars, bakeries and wine rooms today.


The cover of Delaney’s seminal book features a 1980 photograph of the Mercantile Building. Built around 1903, the building at Mission and 3rd Street stands strong in the foreground while an empty middle-ground awaits a future YBCA and Yerba Buena Gardens. The Moscone Center, under construction, is seen rising in the distance.


Blacksmiths, barbers, seamstresses, auto body specialists, flag makers. Places like Hamburger Mary’s, Ambush Bar, Bulk Natural Foods, Gordon Café, and Labyris Auto Repair “Complete Car Care by Women” are photographed by Delanay and presented in here. The book’s simple design uses large images on the right accompanied by short, straight-forward yet personal captions. Otherwise, the book has very little commentary. The images draw us in to look closely at the streets, building, people—the community of Delaney’s south of market before south of market was SoMA. A community still exists, light industry remains, people live here. However, as we course through these streets each day to-from CCA and YBCA, the continued aggressive transformation is palpable with increased construction, cranes, traffic—noise. The hovering quiet caught by Delaney continues to disappear, which makes this book and her photographs even more alluring.

Case Studies identifies a book to unfurl into an exhibition of archival materials, photographic reproductions, periodicals, ephemera, sound, and text that amplify ideas explored by the featured publication.