The Unofficial Department of Handshakes
A site-specific project by artists Hannah Ireland and Alison Pebworth
Artists will be on site Friday, January 12, 19, 26 and Friday, February 2 from 10am-4pm.
Welcome to the Unofficial Department of Handshakes.
Founded by artists Alison Pebworth and Hannah Ireland,The Unofficial Department of Handshakes explores the handshake as one of the few cross-cultural and internationally recognized forms of touch between strangers. The handshake can be simple and direct or complex and coded. Serving as a bridge between people, the handshake can be a casual greeting, a congratulatory gesture, or a mutual agreement.
Using City Hall as the ultimate intersection for citywide public negotiations, Ireland and Pebworth present a playful and improvisational take on a city department. For the month of January 2018, The Unofficial Department of Handshakes will occupy the information kiosk at the Van Ness entrance of San Francisco City Hall in an effort to observe, collect, and analyze the handshakes shared under the dome. The artists will be on site every Friday from 10am-4pm to collect data, facilitating playful interactions with the public to investigate contemporary etiquette around different meanings and style of handshakes. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in their research in various ways from offering their handshake for observation to sharing personal stories about the handshake. Do you remember your first handshake? Were you taught how to give a ‘proper’ handshake? What are some of the cultural variations on the handshake? Do you have an exclusive handshake you share with a friend or club?
In addition to being stationed in the kiosk, Pebworth and Ireland will also conduct project research throughout City Hall by way of a mobile research station. The mobile unit will serve as a backdrop for documenting handshake styles, a site to conduct surveys and promote interaction among strangers, as well as provide ways for visitors to engage in the project when the artists are not present. Simply head over to the Unofficial Department of Handshakes at the information kiosk at the Van Ness entrance to learn how to get involved!
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Hannah Ireland is an interdisciplinary artist living in San Francisco. Ireland earned her MFA degree at California College of the Arts in 2010 and her BA from St. John’s College in 2001. In 2010 she was a recipient of the Barclay Simpson award. She has been artist-in-residence and has presented projects at c3:Initiative (Portland, OR), The Montalvo Arts Center (Saratoga, CA), and The Wassaic Project (NY). Her work has been exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, Root Division, Unspeakable Projects, and Royal Nonesuch Gallery in the Bay Area as well as at national and international venues. Her work has been reviewed in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Portland Tribune, Bad at Sports, Art Practical, Burnaway, and San Francisco Arts Quarterly. Ireland currently has work in An Idea of a Boundary at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.
Alison Pebworth’s work focuses on long-range projects that combine painting, installation, and social interaction including the self-toured Beautiful Possibility project, a two-year traveling exhibition to over 25 non-profit spaces and museums across the United States and Canada. Alison is the recipient of Awards from The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, The Center for Cultural Innovation, The San Francisco Arts Commission, Alternative Exposure, and The Collective Foundation. Selected residencies include The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (NE), Recology SF (CA), Ucross Foundation (WY), Cannonball (FL), SPACES, (OH) and Space (Victoria BC). Alison has exhibited locally at Southern Exposure, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The De Young Art Center with current exhibitions Reconnecting to Home, commissioned by the New Children’s Museum in San Diego and Innards and Upwards, A San Francisco Wunderkammer now installed at The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery through August 2018.
This project is the first collaboration between the artists and is planned in conjunction with the current exhibitions on view in our Main Gallery at 401 Van Ness. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-6pm.