Gilded Cities is an outgrowth of work I completed as a fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2018. As part of the fellowship, I explored displacement within the city of San Francisco.
Spurred by this work, I developed Gilded Cities to explore the fact that the San Francisco Bay Area has become an enclave for the rich—unattainable to all but the most privileged. Nine utilitarian objects throughout the Bay Area (such as sewer plates, water pipes and manhole covers) were gilded in 23 karat gold. The objects often have text associated with them that serves as a reminder of the basic services necessary for survival surrounding us that are largely taken for granted: water, sewer, electricity etc.
The project also contained echos of historic events in the convulsive history of the area. For instance the birth of San Francisco in the gold rush and the use of the term Gold Mountain by Chinese immigrants to describe the city.
An immersive website has also been created by developer Nick Bushman. It allows people to view the objects online, or to map their locations and visit them.
The project became part of the national and local conversation about displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area and received the following press coverage: