Organized by Rob TufnellNovember 8–December 20, 2014 320 West 13th Street Project
Nobember 8 – November 22, 2014
ARTISTS: Art & Language, Thomas Bayrle, Henning Bohl, Steven Claydon, Jeremy Deller, Jim Drain, Liam Gillick, Rodney Graham, Mark Leckey, Aleksandra Mir, Tal R, David Shrigley, Philip Taaffe, Mungo Thomson, Pae White, and Richard Wright.
White Columns is pleased to present ‘LSD’ an exhibition organized by the London-based curator and gallerist Rob Tufnell. For the project Tufnell invited sixteen artists to create new works on ‘blotter’ paper, more commonly associated with the distribution of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD. Writing about the project Tufnell states:
“Discovered by Albert Hofmann in 1938, mass manufactured for use in psychiatry by the pharmaceutical manufacturer Sandoz from 1947 and utilized by the CIA in the 1950s, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, or LSD-25, was banned in 1967 after its widespread adoption by the counter culture.
An effective dose of this invisible, tasteless and odorless compound is 20-30 micrograms. Prior to the ban it had been supplied injected in solution, dripped onto sugar cubes like a vaccination against polio and, famously (by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters), stirred into a bowl of Kool Aid. After LSD was banned the severity of being caught in possession, as with other narcotics, was determined by the weight of the prohibited substance found. For this reason and for other practical concerns in the early 1970s many illegal manufacturers opted to distribute doses using perforated sheets of relatively light weight, absorbent paper – so-called ‘blotter’ – that had been immersed in the chemical. These were labeled with increasingly elaborate designs some of which sat within each individual square whilst others spread over a number or even the whole sheet. Such sheets usually adopt the same format: divided into 900 ¼ inch squares.
For some the ingestion of such ¼ inch printed paper squares resulted in a significant right of passage that promised some level of profound insight (but instead simply disrupted a capacity for basic perception). However, these tiny paper squares became vehicles for an iconography or branding which, ironically, promoted clandestine activity. Rather than celebrating consumer society, they could be seen to have sought to undermine or circumnavigate it. They also recall (and occasionally quote) late Modernism, specifically: Conceptual art, Fluxus, Minimalism, Pop and Surrealism. The prints follow an invitation to the artists involved to design a sheet of ‘blotter’ (without the active ingredient of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide). The resulting designs have each been reproduced in editions of 100 offset lithographic prints. The works at once look back to the shamanic, drug-induced rituals of prehistory and to the signatory grid of Modernism.
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