Papo Colo and Jeanette Ingberman founded Exit Art in 1982 as a space for “unusual” art, which is saying a lot given that this was a time when artists were bisecting public plazas with giant panels of unfinished steel, using subway trains as canvases, and performing year-long pieces that consisted of never going indoors. That February, Papo and Ingberman curated their first exhibition, “Illegal America.” The show explored the ways in which the practice of art had occasionally run afoul of the law, from Charlotte Moorman playing cello in the nude to Chris Burden ordering his assistant to shoot him in his arm. The catalogue consisted of a series of artists’ statements housed in a box, which was sealed shut. In order to open it, you had to tear through a dollar bill glued across the flaps—an illegal act, albeit of the mildest kind.
Exit Art’s mandate was clear from the very beginning: the brash claim that they represented an “exit” from the traditional art world; a neck-and-neck passion for politics and aesthetics; that gag of a catalogue, the kind that implicates gallerygoers as more than passive collectors of names on placards. Yet their remarkable, thirty-year existence on the fringes will soon come to an end. Read More