Abstract

This article addresses David Lamelas's 1970 work Publication, arguing that it represents a subtle critique of the internationalization of conceptual art by a recent entrant into the West European milieu. Exhibited at Nigel Greenwood Gallery in London after the artist's 1968 relocation from Argentina, Publication consists of thirteen written responses to three statements about the possible use of “language as an Art Form” that were sent by Lamelas to international figures in conceptual art such Daniel Buren, Gilbert and George, Lucy Lippard, and Lawrence Wiener. A close reading of this and others of Lamelas's experiments works leading up to this moment reveals affinities with earlier artistic experiments in Buenos Aires, the artist's original context, that have anything but membership in a preexisting movement or the adoption of an established genre as their goal. Between the years 1965 and 1968, Lamelas was part of a group of artists associated with the Torcuato di Tella Institute and the writer Oscar Masotta, who advocated an analytical and antagonistic “dematerialization,” in which prevailing tendencies were to be systematically examined, voided from within, and superseded. In Buenos Aires, Lamelas experimented with breaking his works into sections as a way of calling attention to given objects of attention—a practice of “signaling” that is also present in Publication. Invariably, these works were positioned in critical relationship to those of his peers, applying Masotta's model to each new milieu. In what follows, I compare select works of Lamelas with his contemporaries in Buenos Aires and abroad between 1964 and 1970, contending that Publication represents one of the first appearances of a specifically Argentine, and highly critical, mode of conceptualism in the international art field.

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