ICI’s Exhibitions in a Box series celebrates the fact that interesting projects can come in small parcels, and takes its lead from initiatives such as Marcel Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise and George Maciunas’s Fluxkits. Charged with a do-it-yourself imperative, each Exhibition in a Box provides source material from which venues can generate high-content, low-cost exhibitions, adapting and adding to the materials provided according to the space and facilities available. An evolving series developed by artists, curators and art historians, the content of the boxes variously includes small-scale artworks, videos, sound works, instruction works, ephemera and archive materials.
These projects are suitable for all scales of institution, from libraries and artist-run spaces to art centers, university galleries, museum project spaces or education centers. Each box will arrive with materials ready to install, requiring little or no equipment for presentation. The projects are conceived to stimulate discussions and events, which will be organized by the host venue. Virtually any configuration is possible: for example, the box contents may be added to with contributions from the host venue’s collections and archives, or can be the starting point for an exhibition that presents local artists’ practices in relation to a broader art issue or event. There are three categories of Exhibitions in a Box: key historic precedents that influence art practice and exhibition making now; artist-initiated boxes; and a project series, focusing on one period or range of works from contemporary artists.
The first of the project series, Raymond Pettibon: The Punk Years, 1978–86, taps into the steady stream of this California artist’s early graphic arts production, before he appeared on the contemporary art stage. It includes over 200 examples of Pettibon’s powerful designs made between 1978 and 1986, when he was immersed in the Los Angeles punk rock scene, doing the graphic design for Black Flag and other punk bands. While Pettibon remains a cult figure among underground music devotees for these early designs, over the past 20 years he has acquired an international reputation as one of the foremost contemporary American artists working with drawing, text and artist’s books. Crossing back and forth between music and the visual arts, this project shows Pettibon’s raw imagery, heavily shadowed technique and characteristic visual punch in formation, and includes 44 zines, 120 fliers and a selection of album covers.
Most of the designs were done for SST Records, founded by Pettibon’s brother Greg Ginn, who was also guitarist for Black Flag. In addition to the two-dimensional contents in the box, vinyl records of SST bands, including Minutemen, Sonic Youth and Hüsker Dü, as well as a DVD of a 1983 performance of Black Flag, enrich the context and show Pettibon in his original milieu. To adapt the project to their own communities and bring in new audiences, institutions presenting this project might wish to consider inviting innovative local designers to present their own graphics alongside these, or host performances by local bands.