Sunday 21 November 2010 until Sunday 5 December 2010

EYE CONTACT: works by Tony Conrad and Pedro Lasch and AMATEURISM: an open conference

Part of Brief Habits programme curated by

EYE CONTACT is an event-based presentation of works by Tony Conrad and Pedro Lasch launched by an open conference on the theme of AMATEURISM.

Both projects explore the effects of informal learning, organisation and performance as forms of self-actualisation. Foregrounding ideas of praxis – thinking through doing – and control, the projects question the extent of participants’ personal and collective agency. Artist Pedro Lasch will present his project Naturalizations through a series of group workshops held at the gallery and at venues across the city. Five video works from the 1980s by Tony Conrad will be shown throughout the exhibition.

Naturalizations is a work in progress based on the production and distribution of a set of masks, which are used in specific social situations. The masks are rectangular mirrors with slits in the eye and mouth areas, and elastic fasteners, which enable the users to move around freely while wearing them.

The initial perception created by these masks is one of spatial and psychological confusion. Subjects are reversed if only one person is wearing the mask. If several people wear them and look at each other, their faces disappear and transform into an endless set of reflections of other mirrors, other faces, environments, and objects. Subjects are inseparable from each other. … Space and movement become counter-intuitive. … The hierarchical address of the observer, the photographer, and the interviewer is turned upon itself.

The process and title of the series Naturalizations also invites the user to constantly question ‘the natural’ and those institutions – religious, mythological or governmental, which claim not only to know what is ‘natural,’ but are even ready to issue their own stamps of ‘naturalization’.”

Pedro Lasch

Between 21 – 27 November Lasch will lead workshops from the gallery, but if you’d like to borrow the mirror masks for your own event up until 27 November please email

Around 1958 or 1959 Henry Flynt and I did a public performance of a Duo by Christian Wolff. Henry was an able performer; I, on the other hand, was not. My tone was shrill and thin, without the warmth of vibrato or the nuanced bowing that comes with long practice. Nevertheless, the ‘lesson’ of John Cage’s music was the equivalence of all sounds, and for me, the successful testing of this notion against the amateurism of my own practice was a fascinating confirmation of my forwardness in ‘going public’ as a musician. Henry informed me that Christian particularly liked the qualities of our performance.
— Tony Conrad

From his peer group of noted artists and musicians including La Monte Young, Henry Flynt and the band Faust, Tony Conrad pioneered a ‘destructivist’ strand of minimalist aesthetics. Inspired by the performance of classical Indian music which develops around single tone rather than a pre-planned composition, Conrad started to make work that actively dismantled western notions of music and art that conformed to a score by manipulating sound and image in the real time and space shared by an audience.

Tony Conrad took part in a short season celebrating his film and performance work presented at Tate Modern in 2008. He has exhibited and performed his work at numerous venues including The Royal Festival Hall, London, Greene Naftali Gallery, NYC and P.S.1 MoMA, Long Island, New York. He currently teaches at Buffalo University, in the Department of Media Study.

Pedro Lasch is a founding member of New York-based artist collective 16 Beaver. He has presented his solo work around the world in venues from Mexico to Haiti. Lasch is participating in Documenta XIII in Kassel (2012) through the exhibition’s AND AND AND platform. He currently teaches at Duke University, NCUSA.

EYE CONTACT: opening event 5 – 7pm Sunday 21 November. Exhibition open Saturday and Sunday 12 – 6pm from 27 November until 5 December. Check the gallery website for workshop timings.



AMATEURISM: an open conference 2–5pm Sunday 21 November, free admission, refreshments served.

…we can thus dream of a society of the emancipated that would be a society of artists. Such a society would repudiate the division between those who know and those who don’t, between those who possess or don’t possess the property of intelligence. It would only know minds in action, people who do, who speak about what they are doing and who thus transform all their works into ways of demonstrating the humanity that is in them as in everyone..
— Jacques Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster, 1991

This open conference event aims to present viewpoints on artists’ informal working methods and how they are able to respond to changing practices and conditions in a continued state of precariousness. In light of the Conservative government’s conception of the ‘Big Society’, the conference will seek to rethink the definition of ‘self-organisation’ away from an increasing emphasis on ‘self-reliance’.
A central interest of the conference is John Latham’s notion of the ‘Incidental Person’, which outlines the advantages of non-professional status to professional spheres within his time-based theory;

Incidentality lifts the entrenched opposition between artist and non-artist. What the creative individual (an expression covering anyone dedicated to a particular life practice) brings to bear on situations is not a set of skills honed in art school and rewarded (or not) in the market place, but an awareness of her or his relative position on an infinite and infinitely variable temporal score.
This ability to see both the object qua object and the object as a dynamic web of forces allows the Incidental Person to imagine novel solutions without a particular expertise of the field under scrutiny.

Antony Hudek, Curator, John Latham Archive

The conference will attempt to analyse the ‘critical incidentality’ of creative practice not just for its own sake but with insightful and generative, albeit immaterial effects in the world. Learning from the example of the Artist Placement Group, which Latham was involved in, and e-flux’s recently launched Time/Bank platform, the event will look at other alternative economic models that might inform and strengthen the framework of contemporary art production.