S.M.S. artwork grooves viewers back to the 1960s
Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 15:07
In their original form, S.M.S. portfolios were delivered to viewers by an unusual artistic messenger — the postman.
S.M.S., which stands for "Shit Must Stop," consists of a series six of portfolios that were mailed to subscribers in 1968, a time of social and artistic rebellion.
Co-curator, Elizabeth Hanson, said that the eight curators of "S.M.S.: An Archive of the '60s" worked together thoughtfully to create an interactive exhibit that would stay true to the spirit of the project.
Hanson, who worked under the direction of Nizan Shaked, head of the museum and curatorial
studies, said that the curators feel lucky to have all six portfolios to showcase at Cal State Long Beach's University Art Museum. The curators worked together to create an interactive space with the intent of posing questions to viewers, rather than providing answers.
The pieces from the project cannot be physically touched or manipulated at the UAM, but the exhibit will be interactive and offer an outlet for new connections to be made.
With the idea of creating a unique experience between art itself and the viewer, S.M.S. pieces often included instructions and called for some sort of participation. This created an opportunity for a personal connection and experience that took place outside a museum or gallery.
S.M.S. artists were aware of the tendency for artwork to be passively viewed and worshiped from a comfortable distance on museum walls. The artists' aim was to engage directly with their audience.
The "S.M.S.: An Archive of the '60s" exhibition layout is based on the model of a public archive, and will showcase the six portfolios in flat files that viewers will be able to open and close, accompanied with a series of 30 drawers containing various activities and pieces for the viewers to make connections.
"There are no signs indicating what is actually in each drawer, so there is that surprise element," Hanson said.
Hanson also said that because each viewer carries a different set of experiences and set of ideals, each interaction will lend a unique experience. She hopes that people will find interest in the exhibit and discover the thread tying the original body of works to the present moment in society. With new information and perceptions constantly shifting and growing, the exhibit will be a place for new experiences and personal discovery.
S.M.S. is an example of "mail art," an idea born out of the Fluxus movement that focused on anticommercialism art and a do-it-yourself aesthetic. Each package contained a variety of items including puzzles, audio clips, illustrations, games, works on paper, three- dimensional objects, do-it-yourself kits and small books.
The S.M.S. portfolios contain contributions from more than 80 artists, each of whom specialized in various forms of art mediums. Though there is a divide in mediums, all the artists involved focused on addressing social issues and worked outside the traditional system of the art world and marketplace.
S.M.S. is a playful artistic experiment reminiscent of the period of U.S. history in which it was created. The '60s was a time where the arts were not only questioning the commodity of the art world itself, but loudly questioning society and the government. The reinvention of the works from S.M.S. is not only a tribute to the artists who contributed to the portfolios, but also for the artists who continue to create innovative, unconventional work.
Recognizable names such as John Cage, Yoko Ono, Joseph Kosuth, Meret Oppenheim and Marcel Duchamp are just a few examples of the artists who participated in the S.M.S. portfolios. Collector and gallerist William Copley, was the visionary behind S.M.S. He possessed the needed funds and connections to bring such a broad and talented group of artists together.
"S.M.S.: An Archive of the '60s" will open its drawers Thursday night with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and will be on display until April 18.blog comments powered by Disqus