This essay considers the renewal of “deadpan routines” by Conceptual artists in the early 1970s. Allen Ruppersberg, William Leavitt, and William Wegman, among other California Conceptualists, drew deadpan away from the repetition of administrative procedures, thereby evacuating the effects of psychic urgency and trauma with which the device had been conventionally associated in avant-garde practice. Instead, they keyed their routines to the interactional norms of post-studio pedagogy in Southern California art schools and the rote protocols of below-the-line Hollywood institutions where casual negligence towards imposed assignments served to undermine local bureaucratic authority.

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