The Transnational Practices of Conceptual Art in the 60's and 70's
Among the aspirations of many Conceptual artists in the 60’s and 70’s was an attempt to achieve a democratic outreach for their art ideas and to sever traditional economic and aesthetic based ownership ties to the conventional art institution and market. Through the production of new, relatively “dematerialised” art forms, using inexpensive, ephemeral and easily transportable materials such as photographs, photocopies and texts, Conceptual artists were, to an extent and for a limited period of time, able to side step existing circuits of belated and conventional exhibition and distribution and to instead create and participate in new alternative artistic communication networks. The relationship between these two aspects; the desire for a more rapid, immediate and alternative distribution, and the tendency towards certain dematerialised forms, can be seen as reciprocal: artists not only devised new distribution networks to accommodate their new art forms, but, were also responding to and utilising the new speeds at which information was travelling to creatively devise new art.
Though the aspiration for democratic outreach and severance or escape from the institution has been largely acknowledged to have failed, the practice of Conceptual artists in this period did succeed in creating new, flexible models, both of art forms and of networks or circuits of distribution, exhibition and dealership. One major consequence of this, which has been noted by the Conceptual artist and critic Lucy Lippard, was the increasing internationalisation of art communities through collective trans-national engagement in artistic projects. Using examples such as the ‘Suitcase exhibition’ of Seth Sieglaub, the magazine exhibitions of journals such as ‘Studio International’ and mail art, this paper will sketch out some of the ways in which art communities of this period became internationalised and will examine the particular nature and extent to which such projects laid the foundations for models which have influenced or inspired the globalised practices of the art world today.
Keywords: Conceptual Art
Miss Zoe Dominique Sutherland
Phd Student, Philosophy