Headlands Center for the Arts

Daniel Southard

california | visual
Affiliate Program 2020—2021

Artist Statement

My art practice examines humanity’s evolving relationship to the land as well as meanings held within the land itself. Humanity has become untethered from notions that once seemed fixed and eternal. The very idea of a geological era encompassing millions of years and moving at an imperceptibly slow pace has melted away with the quickening time of the Anthropocene. 

My background as a fine art photographer includes over two decades in the darkroom, but my practice has expanded by necessity in recent years to include writing and publications, sound works, walking, performance, installation, screen printing, and video. Drawing on a broad array of research and conversations, I investigate the meanings of materials to create individual pieces, installations, or experiences that try to bring clarity to the often overwhelming issues which confront us, while at the same time raising new questions.

While at Headlands

The tension today is visceral, palpable, seemingly all encompassing. Humanity seems to be on the brink of multiple simultaneous catastrophes. Rather than rising to the occasion and forming a grand collaboration, we isolate ourselves in our own echo-chambers and become ever more polarized and atomized. My art today attempts to communicate in new ways, bypassing this toxic dynamic.

Headlands is a place of engaged isolation where this world of imminent disaster can be left behind for a moment. This slightly distant perspective, like seeing San Francisco from the eastward slopes of Point Bonita, allows my vision to work clearly in a way that it doesn’t when immersed in the tumult. I work with ephemeral materials derived from the Headlands, making temporary installations in situ amongst the human-altered features of the land. I am also making an animated video about communicating with the far-off future within the human signature in geological strata.

Selected Video Work


The Walk Discourse Walkshop No. 11, 2018; video documentation, footage: Bronwyn Decker; sound: Daniel Southard, Walking is Weight, 2019.

Selected Publications

MADE LAND & PAPER STREETS, broadsheet on paper, 15” x 20”, 16 pages. Souvenir Didactic from MADE LANDS AND PAPER STREETS, San Francisco Public Library, Main Library, Skylight Gallery,  21 January 2020. Printed by the City of San Francisco.

BORDER/LABYRINTH, poster on newsprint, 20” x 30”, 2 sides. Memento to accompany Labyrinth of Leaves, in Believe only the caravan’s trace, Headlands Center for the Arts, 12 November 2020.

Selected Works

Personal Website

http://www.danielsouthard.com