Wednesday, May 26, 2010
A conversation between Liza Béar and Christophe Cherix, in conjunction with the reprint of the complete set of Avalanche by Primary Information.
Sharing a similar history both conceptually and geographically (Avalanche’s original offices at 93 Grand Street were just a stone’s throw from Artists Space’s current Soho gallery), this event provided the occasion to explore the rich history surrounding the magazine within the alternative space movement of the early 1970’s, as well as the magazine’s founding and development.
Avalanche magazine was founded by Willoughby Sharp and Liza Béar shortly after they met in 1968. At the time, Sharp was a New York-based art historian and independent curator and Béar an underground magazine editor who had recently moved to New York from London. They published the first issue in 1970 and collaborated on 13 issues from 1970 to 1976.
Avalanche focused on art from the perspective of artists rather than critics, and investigated new forms of art that were developing in the U.S. and Europe with a radical new media format—probing interviews and a visionary design that made extensive use of photography and dynamic layouts. For many artists, publication in Avalanche preceded a one-person gallery or museum show. Aside from an eight to twelve-page news section, the editorial content included only interviews* by Sharp and/or Béar, artists' texts and documents of art and art making, also functioning as an exhibition space in print. Fresh, incisive and unpretentious, the Avalanche interviews—now landmarks—elucidate the creative process and give clear voice to the specific issues that permeated the era.
Among the featured artists were Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Bill Beckley, Joseph Beuys, Chris Burden, Daniel Buren, Hanne Darboven, Walter De Maria, Jan Dibbets, Barbara Dilley, Simone Forti, Gilbert & George, the Philip Glass Ensemble, Grand Union, Hans Haacke, Jannis Kounellis, Meredith Monk, Barry Le Va, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Gordon Matta-Clark, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Klaus Rinke, Joel Shapiro, Jack Smith, Keith Sonnier, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, George Trakas, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, the Western Front and Jackie Winsor.
The Avalanche archive is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
For more information, or to order Avalanche, please visit:
Liza Béar is a writer, filmmaker, and contributing editor to Bomb magazine.
Christophe Cherix is a Curator of the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
* The exception is one interview by Nancy Holt in Avalanche 8 with construction worker Sid Feck, who helped construct Robert Smithson's Amarillo Ramp.