The Cries of San Francisco: Market Day Public Art Event

With Allison Smith

The Cries of San Francisco: Market Day Public Art Event


Project Headquarters: Mint Plaza (Off of 5th Street between Market and Mission)
5th Street between Mint Plaza and Market Street
Market Street between 5th and 3rd

Schedule of Activities

12:00 PM: Announcements! Announcements! from the Town Crier at Mint Plaza
12:15 - 4:45 PM: The Criers hawk their wares and cry their cries at Mint Plaza and surroundings
1:00 PM: Criers converge at 5th & Market
2:00 PM: Criers converge at Market between 5th & 4th
3:00 PM: Criers converge at Yerba Buena Lane at Market between 4th & 3rd
4:00 PM: Criers converge at Market & 3rd
4:30 PM: Criers return to Mint Plaza

Nearly 70 Cries of San Francisco and participants engage in this embodied public art performance of exchange led by Allison Smith as the Town Crier over the course of one day on June 11, 2011 between Mint Plaza and several blocks of Market Street. Drawing from a host of media representations of peddlers, from the overly romanticized character types in Carol Reed’s 1968 film Oliver! to Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in response to police harassment, in effect sparking revolution and protests in several Arab countries. Some participants’ gestures resonate with contemporary issues of immigration and cultural displacement as well as the social histories and contemporary realities of downtown San Francisco’s Financial and Tenderloin Districts. Exchanges take the form of ephemeral acts and actions that cross and blur boundaries of public and private space while others serve as a parody on commodity exchange and the capitalistic nature of the art market, offering up potentially useful models for contemporary artists working in times of economic uncertainty.