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Then, Not Nauman: Conceptualists of the Early Seventies

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
7:30 p.m. Ritual Redux
Works by Vito Acconci, Terry Fox, Joan Jonas, William Wegman

Undoubtedly the body was the artist's first medium; then came things external, colored pigment, a bone, a brush, a hide surface. The late sixties saw artists return to the beginning, once again privileging the body and the possibility that its movement through the world and the residue of its passage were fair equivalents to the canvas and hewn stone. In Vito Acconci's Openings, the artist painfully pulls the hairs from his stomach until his belly has the purity of a gesso'd canvas. Joan Jonas's first performance videowork, Organic Honey's Visual Telepathy, is a study of female gestures in which Jonas and her alter ego, Organic Honey, masquerade within videospace. The use of video allowed the artist to double herself, heightening this strange ritual of the self. More a rite than a ritual, the beautifully executed performance Turgescent Sex is Terry Fox's tribute to the tragedy of My Lai. Blindfolded with a bandage, Fox releases a fish, entangled in a knotted rope, then stages a symbolic pyre. Another alter ego, the Weimaraner Man Ray, appears beside William Wegman in his absurdist shorts, performed with unexpectedly subversive whimsy. Selections from Wegman's Reel 1 will be interspersed throughout.

—Steve Seid

Openings (Vito Acconci, U.S., 1970, 14 mins, B&W, Silent, Transferred from Super 8 to 3/4" Video, From Electronic Arts Intermix). Organic Honey's Visual Telepathy (Joan Jonas, U.S., 1972, 17.5 mins, B&W, 3/4" Video, From Electronic Arts Intermix). Turgescent Sex (Terry Fox, U.S., 1971, 33 mins, B&W, Beta SP, PFA Collection). Selected Works: Reel 1 (William Wegman, U.S., 1970, c. 14 mins excerpts, B&W, 3/4" Video, From Video Data Bank)

• (Total running time: 78 mins)