God Only Knows Who the Audience Is

God Only Knows Who the Audience Is

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

Douglas DavisStill from The Last Nine Minutes, 1977
Courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix
April 21, 2011
God Only Knows Who the Audience Is


God Only Knows Who the Audience Is:
Performance, Video, and Television Through the Lens of La Mamelle / ART COM
April 21–July 2, 2011 


CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
California College of the Arts, San Francisco campus
1111 Eighth Street (at 16th and Wisconsin)
San Francisco CA 94107




The graduating class of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts is pleased to announce God Only Knows Who the Audience Is: Performance, Video, and Television Through the Lens of La Mamelle / ART COM, an exhibition produced with the support of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. This multimedia exhibition investigates the notion of “performing” as a medium and a site of mediation. Using the publications and archives of the now-defunct gallery La Mamelle / ART COM as a frame of reference, the exhibition interrogates the range of different relationships between audience and artist through the presentation of a variety of traces, including photographic and filmic documentation, remakes, performances, ephemera, video, and broadcast-based works. Though the basis of the show is “historical,” referring back to artistic developments of the 1970s and 1980s, the exhibition traces and extends the conversations within these questions of media, representation, and audience up to the present day through the inclusion of works by contemporary artists.


The first floor of the exhibition begins by interrogating the relationship of performance to the body and ends by observing the relationship of performance to the document. Visitors will encounter live, durational performances by Joel Kayak and Ricardo Rivera; traces of body-based performances by Tom Marioni and Monty Cantsin; and works by Martin Kersels and Stephen Laub in which a surrogate is used to enact the performance. Other works examine how video and documentation on paper serve as means of preserving ephemeral performances while observing that video also mediates the space between artist and audience. This section of the exhibition includes made-for-video work by artists such as Peter D’Agostino and Paul Kos; photographic documentation of Bonnie Sherk’s and Lynn Hershman’s artist performances; and archival publications and documents from Stanford University. The upper-level gallery reflects the dramatic shift in the artist-to-audience relationship of performative works that were created according to, or shaped by, the tropes of broadcast television.


Other participating artists include Eleanor Antin, Rea Baldridge, Olaf Breuning, Chris Burden, CAC TV, Jaime Davidovich, Douglas Davis, Paul Forte, Terry Fox, Mario Garcia Torres, Christian Jankowski, Paul & Marlene Kos, Noah Krell, La Mamelle / ART COM, Chip Lord & Phil Garner, Whitney Lynn, Raul Marroquin, Luis Felipe Ortega & Daniel Guzman, Barbara Smith, SOON 3, Pierrick Sorin, T. R. Uthco & Ant Farm, and Bill Viola.


Give Them the Picture is a literary extension of the exhibition. This accompanying publication is not an exhibition catalog, but rather a selected anthology of essays taken from La Mamelle and ART COM magazines. It collects and places in dialogue 24 articles penned by critics and artists such as La Mamelle / ART COM founder Carl Loeffler, Lynn Hershman, Richard Irwin, Anna Couey, and Linda Montano, plus interviews with artists such as Douglas Davis and Eleanor Antin. This collection represents the complexity of the ideas presented in the exhibition as they were grappled with at the time of their original publication, and also positions them as contemporary questions; particularly relevant is the mediation of performance. It also features conversations between the curators and two of La Mamelle / ART COM’s key figures, Nancy Frank and Darlene Tong.


About the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice
Founded in 2003, CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice offers an expanded perspective on curating contemporary art and culture. Alongside traditional forms of exhibition making, this two-year master’s degree program emphasizes the momentous impact over the last half-century of artist-led initiatives, public art projects, site-specific commissions, and other experimental endeavors that take place beyond the confines of established venues. It is distinguished by an international, interdisciplinary perspective, and it reflects San Francisco’s unique location and cultural history by placing a particular importance on the study of curatorial and artistic practices in Asia and Latin America.


About California College of the Arts
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is noted for the interdisciplinarity and breadth of its programs. It offers studies in 21 undergraduate and seven graduate majors in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design, and writing. The college offers bachelor of architecture, bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, master of fine arts, and master of business administration degrees. With campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, CCA currently enrolls 1,850 full-time students. Noted alumni include the painters Nathan Oliveira and Raymond Saunders; the ceramicists Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, and Peter Voulkos; the filmmaker Wayne Wang; the conceptual artists David Ireland and Dennis Oppenheim; and the designers Lucille Tenazas and Michael Vanderbyl. For more information about CCA, visit www.cca.edu.


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CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
April 21, 2011

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