You had to be there

With unconventional displays of first-hand accounts, reenactments, and ephemera, this collaboration between CCA & ECAV tells a story that is not necessarily “the” story.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


February 08, 2018 1:00 pm - April 21, 2018 4:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


Exhibition: free, no registration needed; Opening: free, registration required:

You had to be there is a group exhibition at the swissnex Gallery that playfully examines what remains beyond the completion of a public artwork or an action, and imagines various modes for experiencing projects in their aftermath. Through close collaboration with the artists and groups involved, the exhibition hopes to tell a story that diverges from the official lines read and promoted through art history. Through unconventional displays of firsthand accounts, reenactments and ephemera, You had to be there aims to tell a story that is not necessarily the story.

You had to be there also questions the role of care and myth-making in the preservation of public works by exploring the legacy of such practices in San Francisco and Sierre, Switzerland. It will present educational initiatives; site-based projects, such as the Center for Land Use Interpretation; and Furk’Art, a little-known artist residency program that has been operating in relative isolation in the Swiss Alps since 1983. You had to be there is the first time archival documents, videos, and images from Furk’Art have been exhibited outside of Europe.

The exhibition is a product of a collaborative workshop between students from California College of the Arts Curatorial Practice Graduate Program in San Francisco and the Cantonal School of Art of Valais (ECAV) Masters of Arts in Public Spheres course in Sierre, Switzerland, under the auspices of the Creative Villages Project, which took place during the Fall of 2016. Scenography is designed by Anthony Guex and Camille Blin, who are faculty at ECAL/University of Art and Design, Lausanne, Switzerland. Graphic design by Jon Sueda, StripeSF.

The exhibition is curated by CCA Curatorial Practice students MK Meador, Amanda Nudelman and Rosa Tyhurst. 

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CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice

CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice is a two-year program designed to give students a deep understanding of art, artists, galleries, and museums in order to empower their work in the art world. Our learning environment is highly interdisciplinary, offering students exposure to industrial and graphic design, architecture, visual culture studies, and conversations around sustainability in order to nurture and inform their developing practice. Alongside faculty, students work with visiting artists, writers, curators, and other museum professionals from large-scale institutions to emerging nonprofits. CCA’s acclaimed Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is an invaluable resource for the program and the site for students’ culminating exhibition.

ECAV Public Spheres Program

The l’Ecole cantonale d’art du Valais (ECAV) Public Spheres Program is located in the heart of the Alps and in the center of Europe. It offers high-quality education in graphic design (secondary education graphic designer – MPA) and visual arts (Bachelor, Master, MAS). The main focus of research at ECAV concerns questions linked to art in public spheres, examining this question in the context of factors that define the School’s geographical location: peripheral, outlying, close to the border, popular with tourists, and alpine. The presence of a remarkable natural environment and the coexistence in a single location of diverse cultures and customs provide inspiration for the design of original forms of artistic experimentation and engagement with differentiated processes of theorization and thought.



Photo: J. Astra Brinkmann for swissnex San Francisco


Event Photos