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The end of an era

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 4, 2014

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The Defenestration Building is no more. According to the website, this “[s]ite-specific installation on the corner of 6th and Howard St. in San Francisco” is a multi-disciplinary sculptural mural created in 1997 that “involves seemingly animated furniture; tables, chairs, lamps, grandfather clocks, a refrigerator, and couches, their bodies bent like centipedes, fastened to the walls and window-sills, their insect-like legs seeming to grasp the surfaces. Against society’s expectations, these everyday objects flood out of windows like escapees, out onto available ledges, up and down the walls, onto the fire escapes and off the roof. ‘DEFENESTRATION’ was created by Brian Goggin with the help of over 100 volunteers.”
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When I used to work in the East Bay I would drive home via the Bay Bridge, exit on Fifth Street and, traffic permitting, I would make the jog up to Howard just to pass by the Defenestration Building on my way home. This wacky landmark was a wonderful gateway icon to view upon entering the City.
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Here’s more from the Defenestration website: “The concept of ‘DEFENESTRATION’, a word literally meaning ‘to throw out of a window,’ is embodied by both the site and staging of this installation. Located at the corner of Sixth and Howard Streets in San Francisco in an abandoned four-story tenement building, the site is part of a neighborhood that historically has faced economic challenges and has often endured the stigma of skid row status. Reflecting the harsh experience of many members of the community, the furniture is of the streets, cast-off and unappreciated. The simple, unpretentious beauty and humanity of these downtrodden objects is reawakened through the action of the piece. The act of ‘throwing out’ becomes an uplifting gesture of release, inviting reflection on the spirit of the people we live with, the objects we encounter, and the places in which we live. The ground level has served as a rotating gallery for the vibrant artwork of street muralists.”
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After unsuccessful attempts were made to restore the building to its artistic glory, the Defenestration Building sat, unused and awaiting demolition, for over a decade. Well, yesterday, its deconstruction as it were was begun. Here’s the SF Chronicle article about the demolition. Included is a slideshow of some 17 photos by James Tensuan. And here’s a video featuring Brian Goggin, the artist behind the art.
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This one post cannot substitute for an entire website like Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, a beautiful, intelligent, and highly awarded site mentioned by me in this post. The city of San Francisco is vanishing before my eyes, our eyes, and it is all so very sad.

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One Response to “The end of an era”

  1. Kay Taneyhill said

    I liked the slide show

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