PRINT December 1970



Political communications from various segments of the art community will be published in this section from time to time. Material is selected on the basis of its potential interest to the general art community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Artforum staff.

Software Battle (Continued)
When Jack Burnham invited me to participate in the “Software” exhibition at the Jewish Museum I happily accepted. I was to have my Dialectic Triangulation; a visual philosophy, programmed for 3-dimensional computer display presentation. It was called Matrix of Knowledge.

Because of the nature of the presentation I had to do extensive research and worked seven days a week through the summer. At first everyone was very nice, assuring me that my program would be finished in ample time for the opening. But as time passed, assurances turned to evasions and finally just double-talk. Ten days before the opening I learned by sheer chance that my piece not only was not finished but that it had hardly been begun. Again I was given excuses and told not to worry, but the show opened without my program ever coming near completion.

Carl Fernbach-Flarsheim and I had been told we had four computers for the six months of the show, but only one came through. We each wrote 3–4 programs, but only one was used. My piece, to be done in 3 dimensions, was reduced to two. We were told we could not see the work until a few days before the opening. The computer was placed in the hottest room of the museum where it constantly overheated and kept breaking down. What glimpses I could get, before the computer was removed from the show a few days later, proved that most of my instructions had been ignored or never transmitted. I had assumed that I could trust the technical advisor assigned to help the artists. But in the end, all concerned did their best to conceal the facts from the public and press. My work and I were treated as a joke.

Having to write a letter like this is distressing, but I must protest the overall incompetence that surrounded this exhibition. I blame no one person. I was caught in the gears of a system within which shows of this type are financed and publicized with complete cynicism, and the end always justifies the means. The waves close over it and nobody gives a damn.

—Agnes C. Denes
New York City

The undersigned support Agnes Denes in her protest against the mistreatment of her work and of herself as an artist . . . The issue here is not merely the mistreatment of one person and one person’s art. It involves the lack of respect shown all artists and their work by art institutions in general, and it involves the reluctance of most artists to make their grievances public. The reasons are understandable—distaste for publicity, fear of retribution from other institutions, the time that must be spent in any sustained protest . . . This, combined with the absurd fact that the show, in its almost totally inoperative state, is going to travel to the Smithsonian, makes it all the more necessary to make public now the inequities and iniquities suffered by Miss Denes.

—Lucy R. Lippard
(for the Art Workers’ Coalition)

(Artists in the exhibition:)

Vito Acconci
John Baldessari
Robert Barry
Donald Burgy
Scott Bradner
Carl Fernbach-Flarsheim
John Giorno
Hans Haacke
Douglas Huebler
Joseph Kosuth
Les Levine
Lawrence Weiner

Artist Tom Ryan has passed on the following communication regarding his 8th Street mural:

Parks, Recreation and Cultural
Affairs Administration
305 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10007
Telephone: 566-7577
August 11, 1970

Mr. Thomas Ryan
c/o Ralph & Charles Abrams
225 Broadway New York, N.Y. 10007
Re: 70129 52 West 8th Street
Greenwich Village Historic District

Dear Mr. Ryan:
The Landmarks Preservation Commission, at its July 21st meeting ruled that the proposed mural which is the subject of the referenced application is not appropriate in terms of Administrative Code Chapter 2076.0, 207-9.0.

This item was the subject of a public hearing on June 9, 1970, at which the applicant’s was the only testimony in favor. Subsequently, the local Community Planning Board communicated its opposition to the proposal by letter.

From the point of view of historical and architectural appropriateness the mural has an adverse effect on the improvement on which it is painted and on the Historic District as a whole. The Commission makes no comment on its esthetic value and significance in the abstract, but for the District the arrangement is non-architectural and too high off the ground and too large, resulting in a disruption of scale and an inappropriate shifting of emphasis away from shopfronts and architectural features. The texture and material (i.e. paint) are appropriate enough, but the colors are inappropriately bright where they should be dark or rich. And the design and architectural style are obviously neither authentic with regard to 19th-century buildings nor harmonious with them.

We note that the mural, for which the Commission’s approval was duly sought, has already been painted, without the Commission’s approval. It is a violation of Administrative Code Section 207-9.0, and therefore subject to penalty as prescribed in Section 207-16.0. You are therefore directed to remove the violation forthwith in compliance with the law. Re-painting with another color (with the prior approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission) is the suggested mode of compliance.

—Michael W. Gold
Director of Operations