The Lab

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The Lab is located in San Francisco's Redstone Building, is a not-for-profit arts organization and performance space founded in 1984.

The Lab "is a catalyst for artistic experimentation. Its projects ignite critical dialogue amongst individuals, organizations, and communities. It supports diverse and underserved artists, providing them with essential resources, time, and space to develop work that takes risks and pushes the boundaries of the non-profit platform. As a site of constant innovation and iteration, The Lab's programming exposes the elements of art making and transforms the creative process in San Francisco and abroad."

Founded in 1984 by Laura Brun, John DiStefano, Tammy Logan, Alan Millar, and Nomi Seidman, five art students from San Francisco State University, The Lab was created as a site for interdisciplinary artistic production. The Lab (originally known as Co-LAB) was first located in a two-story building at 1805 and 1807 Divisadero Street with a black box theater upstairs and a small gallery space downstairs. Early presentations included music shows by radical groups such as Rhythm and Noise, Minimal Man, Husker Du and Z’ev; exhibitions of works by experimental artists Dana Fair, Peter Edlund, and Mark Durant; and performances by luminaries Elbows Akimbo, Mary Trunk and Scott MacLeod, among many others. In 1985, Co-LAB renamed itself as “The Lab."

In 1995, The Lab relocated to the historic Redstone Building in San Francisco’s Mission District. A hub for political organizing since 1914, the Redstone played a significant role in the General Strike of 1934, during which unions occupying the building successfully advocated for expanded rights for African Americans, women, and Chicano workers and ultimately enabled the enforcement of the 40-hour work week. With a nod to this rich history, in 1995 The Lab partnered with Aaron Noble of the Clarion Alley Mural Project and the Redstone Building's still-active union and non-profit occupants on a series of murals in the building's main atrium, which were dedicated upon completion by Mayor Willie Brown.

Since 1984, The Lab has hosted performances and projects by:


Jack Smith

Nan Goldin

Lynn Hershman Leeson

My Bloody Valentine

David Wojnarowicz

Nayland Blake

Jeanne Finley

Christine Tamblyn

Lutz Bacher


Lydia Lunch

Karen Finley

Peter Edlund

Kevin Killian



Carl Stone


The Billboard Liberation Front

Survival Research Laboratories

Mike Kelley

Barry McGee

Carrie Mae Weems

Barbara Kruger

Xylor Jane

Bill Orcutt

Malcolm Mooney

Kathleen Hanna

Jello Biafra


Fred Frith

Rhys Chatham

Nao Bustamante

Rebeca Bollinger

Bruce Conner

Beth Custer

Paul DeMarinis

Anthony Discenza

Didi Dunphy

Elbows Akimbo

Felipe Dulzaides

Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Beth Lisick



Rex Ray

James Stark

Lise Swenson

Charlemagne Palestine

Arnold Dreyblatt

and more


2948 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Contact Information



Laura Brun, John DiStefano, Tammy Logan, Alan Millar, and Nomi Seidman

Dates of Operation


Type of Space

Experimental art, sound, and project space

Community Served

Additional Information and Resources

Wikipedia-The LAB

NoeHill - San Francisco Landmark #238 San Francisco Labor Temple

FoundSF - Labor Temple Murals

The Lab - Program Archive

About this Article

This article was originally created as part of SOMArts Cultural Center's Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces. To learn how to add or edit content please visit the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism's online History Collection Lab.