Haunted Reflections

Walter Benjamin in San Francisco


Radio Free Benjamin is an interactive radio station, and art exhibit, a seance, a catalogue of ideas, and much more.

The installation interpretatively engages with the work of philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), particularly in reference to the more than eighty radio broadcasts that he produced during the 1930's and which were recently collected and published in the form of a book titled RADIO BENJAMIN, edited by Lecia Rosenthal and published by Verso Press.  As a Jewish Marxist, he spent several years in Paris collaborating with the French avant-gardes while in exile from Germany. Although he received a modest stipend from the Frankfurt School, he never held a tenure university post.  In addition to scholarly and experimental writings, Benjamin deployed the emerging technology of radio to help disseminate his ideas for social change and philosophy, which included countering fascism.  As Benjamin fled the Nazis he was refused entry into Spain and committed suicide in Portbou in 1940.  Benjamin was a prolific writer who published on an unusually eclectic range of topics, including pioneering work in philosophies of technology, spatial and cultural criticism.  The installation's visual themes are referential to Benjamin's theoretical work, and the circumstances and location of his death. This installation honors his life and his crucial interdisciplinary experiments in philosophy, technology and culture that we moderns are just beginning to grasp.

RADIO FREE BENJAMIN will run from Wednesday, November 5 through Sunday, November 9. It will be open everyday from 11 A.M. until 6 P.M.

It is located on the San Francisco Art Institute campus, 800 Chestnut Street, in the courtyard below the Walter & McBean Gallery, west side of the campus, San Francisco, California, 94133


Date and Time: Saturday, November 8, 2014, 12:00 P.M.-12:50 P.M.

Location: San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street,  in the courtyard below the Walter & McBean Gallery, west side of the campus, San Francisco, CA 93133

Admission: Free

A party innaugurating the launch of RADIO FREE BENJAMIN: An interactive Installation/Radio Show. Celebrating the release of the new book Radio Benjamin, edited by Lecia Rosenthal, published by Verso. with appearances by Lecia Rosenthal and installation builders Linus Lancaster and Frederick Young. Demonstrations and tours of the broadcasting facility and a talk with Lecia Rosenthal.

The installation is a collaboration conceived by Peter Maravelis, Dr. Linus Lancaster, Dr. Frederick Young with the vital contributions of Lecia Rosenthal, Terry Pagni, Carole Bonsall, Rob Smith, Bryan Davis, as well as the help of art, construction, and engineering students at Healdsburg High School.

RADIO FREE BENjAMIN has been generously underwritten by the Sher Family Hotel Healdsburg Fund, the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation, and the Healdsburg Education Foundation.

Special thanks to the San Francisco Art Institute: Dr. Nicole Archer, Heather Hickman Holland, Kent Long, Hesse Mcgraw, Katie Hood Morgan, and Marc Van Proyen.