Did you get that?

Curated by Laura Callegaro

Chelsea College of Arts Library

23 February – 21 March 2018

‘The S.M.S. (Shit Must Stop) portfolio is not about art, S.M.S. is art.’ (1)

Installation view, ‘Semina 1955-1964: Art is Love is God’. New York: Boo-Horay, 2013

Did you get that? offers an overview of the dynamics within the underground practice of publishing, exhibiting (box) art magazines which were circulating from the late 1950s to the 1970s. They were part of a countercultural response to the dominant art system during those decades.

The majority of these art journals were delivered at the address given at the moment of your subscription – and prices were quite low. Leaving the white-cube space, art and ideas became first-hand, disseminated through a more accessible, rhizomatic way.

In the vertical vitrine, are exhibited some three-dimensional journals such as the well-known Aspen, edited from 1965 to 1971. It gave shape to voices of different disciplines within the arts: visual artists, composers, theorists, musicians contributed to it.

The Aspen Fluxus issue, edited by Dan Graham, designed by George Maciunas, was published in 1970. Its contents vary from a musical score by Philip Glass, to a phonograph recording of Jackson MacLow and La Monte Young.

Box art magazines contained a various range of objects and papers, such as specifically instruction pieces: included in S.M.S is Yoko Ono’s Mend Piece for John: “Take your favourite cup. Break it in many pieces with a hammer. Repair it with this glue and this poem”, or Mel Ramos’ Candy, a poster board card with removable figures.

Always located in the vertical vitrine, is shown Assembling, by Richard Kostelanetz, a counter-conventional publishing alternative which specifically reacted against the ‘oppressive crisis in avant-garde literary communication’: individual visual poets and artists could freely contribute to the formation of the issue, without the editor imposing any restriction, according to Kostelanetz’s perspective.

The idea of exhibitions-as-catalogues, radically happened through the curatorial contribution of Seth Siegelaub to conceptual art, is exemplified here through the July-August 1969, initially published in Studio International.

Lastly, the catalogue of an exhibition based on Wallace Berman’s Semina in New York (2013) is a tribute to one of the first art journals, initiated in 1955 in California: boxes containing hand-made assemblages, photographs, poems of both American and European contributors, such as Herman Hesse. Semina’s very core converged in Wallace’s recurrent motto Art is Love is God. Unlike all the other magazines exhibited, ‘there is a sort of initiation on Semina: it choses you, one cannot purchase or request Semina, it simply comes to you. (…) It has some aspects of religion, the religion of art and friends’.

(1) Statement published in ‘Art America’, issue of June 1968, in Boivent M., Revues d’artistes, 2008, p. 62

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Item List:

Studio International, v. 180, n. 924 ( July/August 1970 )

July/August exhibition book, edited by Seth Siegelaub. London: Studio International in association with Seth Siegelaub 1970

Semina 1955-1964: Art is Love is God. New York: Boo-Horay, 2013

S.M.S [Shit Must Stop] n. 5 (October 1968)

Aspen n. 8 (Fall-Winter 1970-1) Fluxus issue, designed by George Maciunas, edited by Dan Graham

Assembling: a collection of otherwise unpublished manuscripts, compiled by Henri Korn and Richard Kostelanetz (1970)

A critical (ninth) Assembling, compiled by Richard Kostelanetz (1979)


If you would like to get in touch with the curator (Laura Callegaro), please email info@chelseaspace.org