February 19-September 12, 2008, Rosenberg Library, 3rd Floor Atrium
In 6 Degrees of Separation, 12 Artists Explore their Connections:
“By the Time I arrived in Budapest, my head was full of Echoes. This is my word for coincidences and reverberations of the collective unconscious. They’re clues, reminders that reality is but a dream…
Bridget Riversmith, Artist in Residence, Hungarian Multicultural Center
“On the second night…a soft snow was falling and I took a walk to the Parliament Building and photographed the trees at night…at Csopak, Lake Balaton…the bleakness of the trees intrigued me and I took photographs and drew them at many locations..if the trees were barren then, within that bleakness lay of promise of bloom and growth…”
Frances Velasco, Artist in Residence, Hungarian Multicultural Center
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Six degrees of separation is the hypothesis that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries. It was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy, in a short story called “Chains.” The concept is based on the idea that the number of acquaintances grows exponentially with a number of links in the chain. Only a small number of links is required for the set of acquaintances to become the whole human population. By extension, the same term is often used to describe any other setting in which some form of link exists between individual entities in a large set.
“But in my case, what was the mysterious something I had left undone? To look for it was like searching through a tangled cocoon for one thread which would unravel the whole…. If the chain were really there, I should set all its links in motion, no matter which one I laid hold of.”
Frigyes Karinthy, “Journey Round My Skull”, 1938
Six degrees of separation is the hypothesis that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries. It was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy, in a short story called “Chains”. The concept is based on the idea that the number of acquaintances grows exponentially with a number of links in the chain. Only a small number of links is required for the set of acquaintances to become the whole human population. By extension, the same term is often used to describe any other setting in which some form of link exists between individual entities in a largeset. For example, “see also” in a dictionary entry may point the reader to other entries in the same dictionary; after following only six such links, the reader could potentially get to any word in the dictionary that has a link to it. In this special case of the dictionary, it is sometimes called the six links rule.
The works in this exhibition were created by some of the residents of the Hungarian Multicultural Center Winter Residency in Budapest and Lake Balaton, Hungary, 2005-6, none of whom had known each other before.* Our common goal was to discover what being in Hungary, and living with each other, would bring to us personally and how it would inform our artwork.
During the course of the residency, we shared studio spaces, artist talks, ankle deep snow, new foods, a fantastically difficult language barrier, beautiful rambling night walks, and the types of relationships that can only emerge after long close quarters. Beata Szechy, the organizer of the program, gave words of wisdom about how important artists are as ambassadors and makers of peace in a global culture, how we need to respect ourselves as a community and promote a supportive dialogue among peers. All of this required that we forsake the competitive mental framework many of us had upon arrival, and make ourselves open and curious. A fruitful eccentric feedback network developed, a sprawling fusion that continues to grow and shift.
The threads that linked our work together are tricky to pin down, a disparate set of interests with odd overlaps. Tying all of us together was an overwhelming passion for art making, a type of sincerity that fervently infuses discourse among artists, and a simple desire to make a difference in the realization of personal vision, a complicated and much-needed mode of production for the century.
When we returned to our respective homes all over the world, we began to sort out elements of our experience: the way we each move from project to project and our internal dialogs, now linked to interactions we had during the residency. We continue our networking electronically, and when geography is kind, share visits. We have had a series of group shows extending our projects from the residency. Our work continues to evolve, with links springing up from one artist’s practice to another’s.
By extension, these works speak to the experience of students at CCSF. The artists come from many countries and backgrounds, have differing abilities and aspirations. From their interactions with each other they form new ways of thinking, seeing, and community. CCSF is a place where San Franciscans come together, meet and then radiate out. As Heidi Russell, one of the residency participants said “It is not about us, but as a microcosm of a larger community. This resonates for an unknown amount of time in the future and validates Karinthy’s hypothesis.
Instructor, City College of San Francisco
* One artist, Su-Chen Hung, applied for a residency at the Hungarian Multicultural Center the following summer. She knew Frances Valesco previously and thus extended the group by another degree.