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Lectures
Art Is an Excuse: Conceptual Strategies, 1968–1983

November 6 at 4:30
West Building Lecture Hall

Watch the program here.

Kellie Jones, Columbia University

This lecture is based on a book in progress that looks at international conceptual art networks and the making of global community in the late twentieth century.

The dematerialized framework of conceptual art engaged systems theory, which gained currency in the 1960s.  Involving information-based technologies and the impact on labor, such schemas made conceptual art legible as artistic practice, particularly its iterations as interaction or performance, which all but replaced objects as art. Systems theory was also seen in the idea of interrelation as part of a living ecosystem, composed through the interdependence of human beings worldwide.

The larger project encompasses art incorporating language and text along with multimedia installations that charted the annihilation of the traditional object. The lecture singles out performance art, which brought focus to the temporal as a reaffirmation of human existence. A piece could be "placed" anywhere and everywhere and unfolded in the here and now. These characteristics allowed performance to be dispersed effortlessly into the flow of everyday life as spectacle or political act. The lecture will consider moments in the global reach of performance art in the 1970s in locales from Mexico City to London to Los Angeles, considering projects by artists including Felipe Ehrenberg, Lourdes Grobet, Adrian Piper, Senga Nengudi, and David Lamelas.

Image: Senga Nengudi (right) and Maren Hassinger (left) perform Flying (1982) in Los Angeles. Image courtesy African American Performance Art Archive.

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