The content of Materializing “Six Years” can best be described as “art information” rather than “art object” or “art” work as you might expect in the art museum context. John Latham’s work Art and Culture (1966) includes a book, letters, photostats, and labeled vials filled with powders and liquids contained in a leather box. Together these materials document how Latham chewed and spat into vials the seminal text of the same name as his title by Clement Greenberg and was eventually fired from his academic position for the destruction of a library book. This playful and early example of Conceptual art was one of the works that was easy to engage with while Bernar Venet’s audio of three physicists giving simultaneous lectures at Judson Church in 1968 is impossible to decipher and loses meaning in the strictly audio format. As a collection of “art information” these materials function more like an archive of Conceptual art than an exhibition.
Running throughout Materializing “Six Years” are Lucy Lippard’s own art projects from this period. Because she is blurring the lines between curator, critic and artist, her vision of inclusivity and redefining the formal parameters of art recurs throughout the exhibition and lends it a focus or narrative among the many voices and causes presented. Her repeated city specific exhibitions, beginning with 557,087 (1969) in Seattle, which in turn led to Robert Barry Presents Three Shows and a Review by Lucy R. Lippard (1971) challenge viewers to easily explain Lippard’s role in emerging Conceptual art.
Materializing “Six Years” is an undeniably demanding exhibition. Strolling through the galleries will leave you clueless because each piece demands the visitor to approach, read and engage. This is necessary because the dematerialization of art along with the introduction of new formats that Lippard championed in Conceptual art continues today. Performative, site specific and ephemeral tendencies in art have not waned, and with increasing digitization art continues to move beyond traditional contexts.