Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

SF Zoo screens gay artist’s film

The San Francisco Zoo is screening a local gay artist’s film inside an unused portion of its renovated Pachyderm Building.

The eight-minute video and sound art installation piece, created by San Francisco resident Henry Jackson, debuted over Labor Day Weekend. Titled KINGDOM ANIMALIA: “An Abstracted Reverie,” it is described as a metaphysical journey that combines Jackson’s observations of both the animals that live at the zoo and the humans who visit.

“I want people to look a little deeper about animals, their behaviors and their origins,” stated Jackson, one of two San Francisco-based out artists  who took part in this year’s hearts art benefit for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. “Because animals tend to get the best of human curiosity, I think this is the last thing you’d expect to see at the zoo.”

As a recent Bay Area Reporter article noted, the San Francisco Zoo is trying to attract a different demographic of visitors to the  ocean-side facility than just parents with small children. In June the zoo marched in the city’s annual gay Pride parade for the first time and last month held its first silent disco party.

It has also been trying to use art as another attraction to draw out a more adult clientele. Scattered around the zoological park are animal sculptures by students from a local arts university. Various artists have painted several murals depicting animals on the walls surrounding the old Pachyderm building, which is now home to an Asian rhino.

Jackson’s audiovisual piece, funded in part by the Bernard Osher Foundation, is the first project of its kind at the zoo. It is the latest example of how the zoo is working with artists to re-purpose underutilized areas of the 100-acre park in its effort to reach new audiences.

“Very few programs like this exist in zoos around the world,” stated Tanya M. Peterson, executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society. “We’re hopeful that Henry’s work will inspire other artists to look at the zoo differently as a place where they can express their creative points of view in relation to the animals we see each and every day here.”

Jackson’s video plays inside the Pachyderm Building between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 1 Zoo Road, San Francisco. Visit for more information.

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 13, 2012 @ 4:42 pm PST
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