503 Social Club

(2022)

Entrance to 503 Social Club. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia
Recology SF, Artist in Residence, San Francisco, CA
Feb-June 2022

From February to June 2022, I was in residency at Recology SF. Based at the San Francisco city dump, this program has been running for over 30 years. During this time, I had unfettered access to the Public Re-use and Recycling Area (PRRA) at the Recology Recycling and Transfer Center, where the public is dumping larger items.

The whole experience was shocking and mind-blowing. Not only is it appalling to witness the sheer wastefulness of a society casting off so many perfectly good items, it is also profound to realize that due to whatever circumstances, the owners of many perfectly good items are not coming back for them. Contemplating death was a daily occurrence. Staring down a huge pile of trash, I could see the end of the line for people and things. Everything jumbled together, tangled and broken; piles of chaos, things cut short in mid-sentence. The four months were a life-altering experience. I felt overwhelmed, amazed, aghast, heartbroken, and speechless (often all at once!)

The images here are of my final exhibition at the Recology Artist in Residence Program, 503 Social Club. The photos really do not do justice to the pure chaos that it grew out of.


Fountain #11. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia
From afar the trash pile looks like a blur, but up close, things get interesting. There is SO much information flowing through that space. This is probably what triggers the intense sensation of being overwhelmed. Multiple meanings coming from all directions; it is an assault on all the senses. There is so much to be gleaned not only by the things, but also by watching and noticing people as they throw away the things. Their body language and the way they relate to the objects being thrown; our various complex relationships in the world fully manifested in this act of discarding. I was elated, flabbergasted and shocked on a daily basis; a four-month long emotional roller-coaster. By the end, I was euphoric, yet exhausted.

Map. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia
503 Social Club was an exhibition/event envisioned as an immersive installation; a conceptual anamorphic image where all the people, ideas and things fall into place when viewed just so. The work swirled around a theme of convergence of people and things with their varied histories, travels and migrations.

There were two big studios that I had the pleasure to fill. The first room featured a sprung dance floor made of scrap wood and full sound system with three crates of LPs. (Let me repeat: 99% of the work was scavenged. All the sound equipment more or less worked when I plugged it in). I built a working fountain and a sauna (although I was not allowed to use the sauna because of Covid health and safety reasons.) I made a few works on canvas. Some collage pieces, embroidered a few chairs and a sun shade.

During the opening days, I invited friends to come DJ with all the found LPs and audio equipment. The front room was designed to host a dance party. The back room was more low-key, for hanging out and chatting.


Embroidered camp chairs. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia
I still miss the daily scavenging. It helped to put the (often) ugly world in a larger perspective. I would regularly just stand in the PRRA, as the trash was getting dropped off, bulldozed into massive piles and hauled away in trucks and just allow all the noise, smells visual information to flow over and around me in a Zen-like moment, just taking it all in.

The experience was extraordinary, mind-blowing, transcendental.


Every Prime Number Divided by Four. Work on canvas. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Embroidered camp chairs. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Embroidered camp chairs. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Hex Tiles, A thru U (collaged whiteboard tiles and stickers). 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Hex Tiles, A thru U. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Hex Tiles, A thru U. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Furniture arrangement on the left with camp chair and tent sauna on the right. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Steam Room. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Map with embroidered camp chairs in the background. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Fountain #11, top view. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Polaroid documentation of studio visitors during the residency. Film and camera all scavenged. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia
The DJ station detail. Scavenged equipment and vinyl. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

The DJ station. Scavenged equipment and vinyl. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Little Hollywood (Embroidered sun shade) with taped map on the walls. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia

Little Hollywood (Embroidered sun shade) with taped map on the walls. The DJ station detail. Scavenged equipment and vinyl. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Minoosh Zomorodinia
503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Wang Wei
Camping chairs and sauna tent. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Wang Wei
Furniture arrangement. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Wang Wei
Hex Tiles A thru U. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Wang Wei
Spiritual Go Bag. 503 Social Club Installation view. Photo by Wang Wei
There are SO MANY PEOPLE to thank for this amazing experience.

BIG FAT SLOPPY Thank you to the Recology AIR Team: Deborah Munk, Ailsa Harju, and Ximaps Dong.

Special thanks to those who helped make the exhibition and event possible: Mike Arcega, Winifred Ho, Brad Fogo, Denise Ho, Isabel Hofogo, Pia Hofogo, Todd Nakagawa, Mansur Nurulla, Chloe Schoenfeld, Eloise Schoenfeld, Chau Smith, Michael Smith, Pearl Wong, Pei Yu, Suz Takeda

Also a HUGE thank you to everyone at Transfer Station at Recology. My time there was so precious. Big shout out to these PRRA folks in particular:
Albert, Francisco (Front loader), Francisco (Haz Waste), Jamal, Jose, Michelle, Ming, Nelson, Waheb, and Sam.

These are images from the opening. Thank you to the family and friends (new and old) who came to the show.