Project Artaud

Author: Ariana Cisneros

Project Artaud, a huge and prominent art fixture of the Mission since 1971, boasts of over 70 individual artists' live and work-in, as well as arts related nonprofits, small artist businesses, studio theaters and galleries, offering a unique and impressive insight on west coast art as an innovative hub. Artaud's community of artists, always expanding and innovating through mutual collaboration embodies a young legacy of west coast art. As a community fixture, many of Artaud’s performance spaces feature contemporary local and international performances, as well as workshops, youth outreach programs, and community classes.

Project Artaud was originally part of the American Canning Factory manufacturing arm in 1925. However, as plastic become a popular replacement for aluminum and tin cans in the 1950's, the factory was closed as ACF merged with Penn Corp to become Primerica, an insurance and finance company completely detaching from their former manufacturing lineage. Project Artaud was founded by artists moving into what was, in the 1970's, a long-abandoned warehouse in the Mission District. The art complex's namesake, Antonin Artaud, was an avant-garde French playwright who promulgated the concept of the “Theater of the Cruel”, inspired by Balinese gamelan, wherein the audience was meant to be fully immersed in the theatrical subject matter.

Z-Space is a large theater that hosts a variety of in-house performances as well as a theater space for renting artists to perform their work. Both local and international artists regularly featured at Z-space, promote artist specific interactions with the performance space more broadly than the stage itself. Performances may use of the unique structural features of the theater, particularly in site specific performance. Joanna Haigood's 1994 work “Steel's Shadow”, for instance, explored of the history of the warehouse through its architectural qualities, featuring use of an overhead ten ton moving steel crane, affectionately nicknamed “Cyclops” used during the manufacturing days of the cannery. Z-Space hosts Word for Word, an ensemble performing bimonthly, staging works of short fiction. Originally implemented in 1994 as an ongoing program through Z-Space, Word for Word has expanded to also include an educational youth program, Youth Arts, which offers workshops to many Bay Area schools to employ Word for Word's methods of deep engagement with literature for students.

Nohspace is a theater housing the headquarters and primary performance space for the Theater of Yugen, an experimental ensemble which creates original works exploring classical material through Japanese Noh and Kyogen satire. Committed to traditional Japanese theatrical performance as a discipline, their mission pursues the Japanese concept of “Yugen” as the driving aesthetic in their performance—namely a synthesis of profound grace and subtlety which underpins Japanese aesthetic norms in many artistic renderings of beauty. Nohspace theater hosts arts apprenticeships and youth programs for the community and seeks to promote outreach to both other Japanese artists and engagement with west coast artists. They also have educational programs teaching both Kyogen and Noh theatrical standards to the public.

The Joe Goode Annex theater space hosts, Goode's theatrical dance company which performs original choreography. The space offers educational workshops, youth programs, and rental space. Ongoing community outreach programs include the Resilience Project, a residency focused on stories of combat veterans' resilience, as well as the Dance for Parkinson's project, which helps those with Parkinson's and their family members use movement as a method of retaining physical strength, maintaining coordination, and quality of life.