Air-Conditioning Show / Air Show / Frameworks 1966-67

Tipo obra:
Graphic material
Lithography on paper
20 pp.
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium. Long-term loan of Philippe Méaille
Registre núm:

Air Show is a project by Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin, realised between 1966 and 1967. In their process of reflection on the nature of art, one of their first strategies was to take a physical property of the natural environment (air, temperature, geography...) and use it as a device for interrogation. Thus, a column of air or a fog bank could be claimed as objects of artistic attention, contrasting the modes that we have for naming and experiencing them with the ways in which we identify and discuss art. And it is in this line of thought that a project like Air Show is located.

Air-Conditioning Show or Air Show consisted of publishing a series of texts and carrying out various experiments in space, around air-conditioning systems. This resulted in the materialisation of different presentation formats or shows.

Air-Conditioning Show began as a text and drawing that the artists distributed during 1966 and 1967. Robert Smithson received one of these texts and published it in Arts Magazine in November 1967. That same year, Joseph Kosuth organised the first exhibition of the project in Coventry (England). The exhibition would travel years later, in January-February 1972, to the School of Visual Arts Gallery in New York. Along with the writings, a real air conditioner was displayed.

The texts, which established the foundations of the project, were designed both to be published and exhibited. Art & Language Press published Frameworks-Air Conditioning in 1967 in a limited edition of 200 copies and this was republished by the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 1980; Hot-Cold was published in 1967, also by Art & Language Press; and Remarks on Air-Conditioning, by Michael Baldwin, was published in Arts Magazine in November of the same year (on the initiative of Smithson, as mentioned above). Other pieces produced for this project were Study for the Air-Conditioning Show (1967), a drawing of a rectangular cabin with instructions for the installation of air conditioning; and Three Vocabularies and for the Air Show (1966), which offered technical details of an actual air apparatus, such as thermal conductivity, volume and heat capacity per unit mass.

The project as a whole investigates the properties of air conditioning as an art object and its possibilities for display, thereby positioning itself in favour of the dematerialisation of art. The air conditioner is used here as a ‘device’, as a ‘technical vehicle’, as part of a machinery through which an attitude to art is made explicit.

One of the texts for Air Show reads: ‘It is necessary actually to install air conditioning as described in the text, or will the text do just as well?’ The type of questions that are deployed here allude to the typical protocols of the art world on the visibility of artworks; something that was then labelled as non-exhibition. Need one succumb to the fetishism of exhibitions? The non-exhibition became a common practice of Art & Language, generating a prolific confusion between ‘artist’, ‘critic’, ‘participant’ and ‘viewer’.

In Air Show, Art & Language advocates a clear analytical artistic practice. The exhibition space becomes a linguistic premise, rather than the physical place that is canonically identified by the modern tradition.

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