The Air-Conditioning Show

In 1966, the art group Art & Language (which, at the time, was Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin) debuted the Air-Conditioning Show. This consisted of an air conditioner in an empty room. The only vaguely art-like part of the exhibit (in a conventional sense) was ten sheets of paper pinned to the wall by the door, on which were written line after line of cryptic sentences, such as, "It is obvious that the elements of a given framework (and this includes the constitution of construct contexts) are not at all bound to an eliminative specifying system."

This exhibit is now regarded as a significant moment in the development of modern art. One art historian noted that what made it original was that, "the body of air in a particular gallery space was singled out for art-status." Another says:

Art & Language’s ‘Air Conditioning Show’ (1966-67) was seen as an exploration of our understanding of art institutions and their exhibition spaces; specifically 'the desire to show institutions’ internal mechanisms, here the thermal regulating system for an exhibition space, left empty.’

In a 2012 article in the Independent, Charles Derwent singled it out as, "the moment when the visual arts in Britain were beginning to turn un-visual, when mere visuality was becoming suspect."

The sheets of paper are now preserved at the Tate Museum of Modern Art.

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 30, 2019
     Category: Art | 1960s

I would be happy to visit this exhibit day during the peak of summer. I would be whisked away to my happy, cool place.

agent j
Posted by agent j on 07/30/19 at 08:48 AM
Not artsy enough to my taste. Instead of this empty bore, I would have put a big window air conditioning dead center in a wall separating two sides of the room. I would also have installed bleachers on both sides and labelled the rooms HOT and COLD and arrange separate access to both sides. Finally, instead of the cryptic messages, I would have put on the walls poetry and prose about cold on the cold side and about heat on the hot side. This way, you have a four season permanent exhibition called Air Conditioning.
Posted by Yudith on 07/30/19 at 11:38 AM
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