© Christian Marclay Telephones, 1995, Video Duration: 7 minutes 30 seconds Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and White Cube
“It’s for you,” Conceptual Art and the Telephone
Housatonic Museum of Art

February 24 – March 25, 2010

Inspired by the Housatonic Museum of Art’s (HMA) most immediate audience, our students at Housatonic Community College, the HMA has curated “It’s for you,” Conceptual Art and the Telephone.  The exhibition is, in part, a response to the wide-ranging use of phones in the hallways and other areas on campus.  Each day students text, talk, surf the net, and listen to music on their phones.  With this exhibition, artworks that use the phone as an artistic medium or mediator are brought together in an original exhibition curated by Terri C. Smith.  

The projects range from the late 1960s to today and include sound pieces, videos, and objects that resonate with the functions, technologies, and physicality of the telephone. Artists in the exhibition include: T. Foley, Lukas Geronimas, Jeremy LeClair, Christian Marclay, Yoko Ono, Rachel Perry Welty, Robert Peters, Pietro Pellini, and Hannah Wilke. 

Many of the artists in “It’s for you” aim to democratize the artist/audience relationship, a quality that is intricately woven into the history of conceptual art.  In “It’s for you” Yoko Ono might call the gallery as part of her Telephone Piece, providing direct contact between artist and “viewer.”  Students will work with T Foley, creating their own ring tones as part of her Locally Toned project. Archival materials are also included as a way to represent ephemeral works from the past as with Robert Peters’ Naming Others: Manufacturing Yourself (1993) where the artist asked people to call an 800 number from pay phones and choose which stereotyping phrase described them best. 

“It’s for You” harnesses the familiarity of the telephone as a way of introducing audiences to a variety of conceptual art practices, which often include a mix of art theory and social critique. The exhibition, consequently, endeavors to connect concerns found in contemporary art with the objects, communication habits, and changing technologies in our daily lives.  In that spirit, visitors and students will be encouraged to comment on the exhibition using telephone-friendly interfaces such as Twitter.

Gary Wiseman's Cell Novel: New Objects
is in HCC's "Horizons" newspaper