new-york

The First Amendment Network, Studio of the Streets, 1991–93, still from a cable access TV show on public television, Buffalo, NY. From “Tony Conrad: Urban Community Inventions,” 2012.

Tony Conrad

80WSE Gallery, NYU Steinhardt School

The First Amendment Network, Studio of the Streets, 1991–93, still from a cable access TV show on public television, Buffalo, NY. From “Tony Conrad: Urban Community Inventions,” 2012.

Tony Conrad has made his way through the past half century of cultural shifts by puncturing paradigms to let out some of the hot air. While his major contributions to movements from minimal music to structural film to media studies are only growing in recognition, it was no surprise that this exhibition, organized by Michael Cohen along with the artist, forestalled nostalgic retrospection. Viewers were greeted with a window display ostensibly referencing New York University’s controversial expansion plan, with blinking caution barriers and a wheelbarrow of cement mix—signals of a work in progress. The rest of “Doing the City,” which was billed as a survey show, was more a constellation of lesser-known ventures grouped around the theme of community and public space.

“Community,” as Conrad explained during one of the show’s affiliated screenings at Anthology Film Archives, can

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