Related Articles: Gallery, All

Harrell Fletcher in the Flesh

Have you ever wanted to show someone the best scar on your body - to tell someone what happened to you, or what you think of that scar today? Harrell Fletcher wants to see your scar. He wants to hear your story and, most of all, he wants to use his art to collaborate with as many people as he can. Fletcher's most recent collaborative projects, currently on display at New Langton Arts, trace the paths he's taken across the world and the various ways he uses his practice to observe and document the people and places he's experienced.

He's photographed and recorded the stories about scars on the bodies that pass through a probation office lobby in Portland, Oregon. He's sculpted mini likenesses of others and displayed the figurines in their front yards. Recently, he collaborated with the Oasis for Girls center in downtown San Francisco to create a free newspaper called, And the Sun Shines for You Today. Copies are available in the gallery to take and distribute.

Fletcher's most appealing work to date can be seen in the website, www.learningtoloveyoumore.com, which he created with musician, Miranda July. The site is organized by numbered 'assignments' in which anyone can participate. For example, assignment #30 asks you to take a photograph of strangers holding hands. Assignment #18 asks you to recreate a poster you had in your room as a teenager. Once you've finished your assignment, your submitted work is posted on the site for future visitors to enjoy. Fletcher's introduction to the site describes his approach to this and many of his other projects. "It's a whole new way of life and the best part is that it's so simple. You make it seem so easy. We are learning to love you more and more and more every day. Now go to it."

Overall, Harrell Fletcher is working toward a genuine social exchange between institutions, communities and individuals. For Fletcher, it is the exchange itself that becomes the art. The photographs, videos and objects on display are merely the residue of what can happen inside and around these human exchanges. He is encouraging us to creatively articulate what it is we do notice every day in our private lives. He's letting us live in our own skins- not so we can discover a monolithic mantra that we all the same in the end. On the contrary, he is showing us that we each have our private experiences of happiness and it's important to let other people know about it.

Harrell Fletcher has emancipated his collaborative and public works from the hyperbolic irony of the current day but that does not mean his work is any less engaging or interesting. Fletcher's work does not provide his participants with a cynical 15 minutes of fame, nor does it allow viewers the escapist bliss found in romantic comedies and reality television. These projects are located somewhere else. They are located in the crevices of the everyday, where people sit on couches together and compare stories about their scars.

"Happiness Follows Us Like a Shadow"
through Feb. 7th
New Langton Arts
1246 Folsom St.
Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. Tues.- Sat. or by appt.
415-626-5416
www.newlangtonarts.org