Saturday, July 19, 2014

BART was the Future

Glen Park Underground

When I first moved to San Francisco, when I was 18, BART was something that meant "the Future". I grew up in southern California, and I clearly remember a 3rd grade textbook in the 70's, all about Our Great State. Agricultural wonders of bioengineering would produce more, with less; square tomatoes would get to supermarkets undamaged; and BART was the Future! It was brand new, it was wonderful, it would connect us with the urban centers quickly and cleanly and quietly... Stratigraphy, as a non-archaeologist, is the relational placement of different contexts from the past. As they are unearthed, artifacts are described as 'higher' or 'lower', 'above' or 'below', based on their relationship to the contexts around them. I think about this when I go below to the future that I live in now.  Both newer and older than the deposits above it, the system tells a story that never came true.

- Sarah Newton

Detail of miniature BART sculpture replicates

I am intimately familiar with the large relief sculptures that adorn the entrance to the 24th St. BART station, it is 2 blocks from my house and I don't own a car so BART is one of my primary means of mobility. I don't know who made them, I'd like to check but a temporary structure built to repair the escalator is covering the information placard for these artworks.

These sculptures are dated, they are dirty, they are large and impressive. They represent a different way of looking at public space than today's age of smartphones and private this and that, they show that BART's builders sought to honor the commons, today we are busy chipping away at what is shared, chopping it up and monetizing it.

I set about to replicate these sculptures as the miniature maquettes they probably once were, when, instead of being encrusted with pigeon droppings and dirt they were imbued with optimism and egalitarian ideals.

-Anthony Ryan