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San Francisco gets its own amazing race for art’s sake

Fifty teams. One-hundred clues. $4,000 cash-prize.

Welcome to British artist Joshua Sofaer’s latest art experiment: A citywide scavenger hunt that sends 50 teams of four zooming in and around San Francisco, all on the hunt for a list of clues he’s conceived, bound to make for an interesting chase.

Equal parts visual and performance art, participants earn points for solving clues and collecting objects throughout The City, all of which will become a comprehensive work of art shown for three days at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

More than a treasure hunt, Sofaer wants teams to tap into their creativity in completing the hunt and said participants will be required to do just that as the list of clues he’s developed, in many cases, is wide-open for interpretation.

“You either get the object or you don’t,” Sofaer said. “But if you don’t, there’s five points available for creativity.”

Sofaer first launched his scavenger hunt in conjunction with the Tate Modern in London that sent 20 teams racing around the city and ended with a one-day exhibition at the Tate of what that hunt yielded.

The artist hopes to see his scavenger hunts executed in four different cities around the globe and then tie those individual events into a world scavenger hunt (or a world scavenger hunt relay) that would coincide with the 2012 Olympics, to be held in London.

More than 200 teams applied for the 50 spots available, each one drastically different.

A contingency of bicycle couriers in the race are excited to put an artistic lens on how they typically see The City and have an opportunity to link up to the SFMOMA.

Meanwhile, a team of two married couples called “To Junk or Not To Junk” hopes to find some kind of middle ground between the constant battle between the wives’ desires to hoard and the husbands’ compulsion to discard.

Some of the items participants must find will be uniform in nature, but others will require the hunters to use their creativity in solving clues.

That means participants should conceivably return with a wide variety of items, depending upon their interpretation of a particular clue.

A good portion of theatrics and performance art are also scheduled into the scavenger hunt, with some of the clues leading teams to have one-on-one encounters with performances that result in a monologue or dialogue between the groups.

The ending exhibit will be a mix of displays that catalog and label the found objects, while in other cases Sofaer will use the found objects to create a completely new work.

Most of the exhibit follows the principals set forth by pop artist Andy Warhol, Sofaer said, and speak to the artistic qualities found in repetition and patterns.

What’s drawn Sofaer to this kind of performance art as well is the level of participation from an audience it demands, and subsequently, how that audience inevitably informs and dictates the finalized work.

Art Preview

SFMOMA Scavengers

When: Sunday through Thursday

Where: SFMOMA, 151 Third St., San Francisco

Price: Tickets are $12.50 for adults; seniors, $8; students $7. SFMOMA members and children 12 and under are admitted free.

Info: Call (415) 357-4000 or visit http://www.sfmoma.org

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