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Announcement
November 1, 2021

Life as Activity: David Lamelas

Hunter College

David Lamelas, The Violent Tapes of 1975, 1975. Series of ten black-and-white photographs on paper, 9 x 12 inches each.

Curated by Harper Montgomery, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art with Sarah Watson, Chief Curator, and Re'al Christian, Lazarus Graduate Curatorial Fellow, and with MA and MFA students enrolled in the curatorial practicum seminar: The Transgressive Itineraries of Conceptualism.

The Hunter College Art Galleries are pleased to present Life as Activity: David Lamelas, an exhibition marking the artist’s first solo show in New York in more than a decade. For over half a century, Lamelas (born 1946, Buenos Aires) has made work that pushes the boundaries of contemporary art by defying conventions of artistic media. Although he is globally recognized as a ground-breaking figure of conceptual art, his explorations with the spatial qualities of film and the signifiers of identity have not been adequately investigated. Life as Activity focuses on Lamelas’s experimentation with film and his examination of identity and narrative fiction in light of his ongoing insistence that his artistic practice has always, in one way or another, been grounded in his sense of himself as a sculptor.

The exhibition brings together sculpture, film, and photography made across many decades and locations to center this aspect of Lamelas’s artistic practice. These works include two key sculptural installations he made in Buenos Aires in 1966 and 1967, Situación de cuatro placas de aluminio (Four Changeable Plaques), a moveable configuration of aluminum sheets, and Límite de una proyección I (Limit of a Projection I), a spotlight in a dark room; a series of ten photographs shot in London that pose as film stills for a non-existent movie, The Violent Tapes of 1975; and two films, The Desert People, a pseudo-documentary about a road trip to a Native American reservation, which was shot in Los Angeles in 1974 and The Invention of Dr. Morel, a film based on the Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares’s novel The Invention of Morel (1940), which was filmed in Potsdam, Germany in 2000. Both films will be screened on an ongoing basis at the following times: 11:30am, 12:45pm, 2:15pm, and 3:45pm. Showcasing the ways in which Lamelas makes us aware of how the stories we tell ourselves are shaped by encounters with space and time, all of these works invite us to participate in scenarios in which container, contained, observer, and observed become blurred.

On occasion of the exhibition, a publication has been produced that includes texts on Lamelas by Professor Harper Montgomery and students in Hunter’s graduate programs in Art History and Studio Art. Essays focus on twelve works by Lamelas and include previously unpublished materials from the artist’s papers. Published in collaboration with Hirmer Verlag, the book is distributed by the University of Chicago Press and available for purchase here.

Both the book and the exhibition have been developed in close collaboration with David Lamelas, who worked with students via Zoom on both projects during the course of the pandemic, from spring of 2020 through the fall of 2021.

Life as Activity: David Lamelas results from an Artist Seminar Initiative grant awarded by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), which advances scholarship and public engagement with art from Latin America. It was organized under the auspices of ISLAA’s Artist Seminar Initiative, an educational and curatorial program that fosters intimate exchanges between students and living Latin American and Latinx artists.

Additional support for Life as Activity: David Lamelas is made possible by Joan Lazarus, Gagosian Gallery, and the James Howell Foundation in support of the Advanced Certificate in Curatorial Studies, and by the galleries’ sustaining supporters; the David Bershad Family Foundation, the Susan V. Bershad Charitable Fund, Inc., Carol and Arthur Goldberg, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, and the Leubsdorf Fund.

Upcoming events:
Open house with the artist and curators
Saturday, November 6, 2021, 1–5pm

Curator-led tours
Saturday, December 4, at 2pm and 4pm
Tuesday, December 7, at 6pm

Virtual book launch
Wednesday, December 8, 12pm

Gallery hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11–5pm. Gallery entrance located in the Hunter West Building Lobby on the SW corner of Lexington Ave. and 68th St. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for all visitors 12 years and older. For more details visit our website.

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