Maya Gurantz and Ellen Sebastian Chang were commissioned by the Great Wall of Oakland to create a public video art piece. Inspired by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s seminal Hole in Space from 1980, for this project, we installed video “portals” between distinct Oakland neighborhoods that are close geographically but worlds apart socioeconomically, attempting to provide a portal of mutual acknowledgement and understanding–a counterpoint to the city’s current accelerated gentrification and concurrent economic unrest.
In January 2015, we connected Youth Employment Partnership on International Boulevard in East Oakland, and Cole Hardware in Rockridge, with a third site for passive viewing at a restaurant located in industrial West Oakland. We created business cards with the website information and simple statements like “see without judgement,” “this is not surveillance,” “this is a portal” and “say hello to your neighbor”. We had no press releases or Event-brites or Facebook, Twitter or Instagram invites–it was about discovery and speaking through space across invisible lines.
We screened documentation of the footage at the Oakland Museum of California in May 2015.
The project was supported with the generous support of the Great Wall of Oakland, the Fleishhacker Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. The project was written about for Fast Company, Eat Drink Films, Citylab at The Atlantic, and the East Bay Express.