PROJECT INC. REVISITED, Book Launch and Signing

June 14, 2013

Paul McMahon will be signing copies of PROJECT INC. REVISITED, published by Churner and Churner. Forty years after it began a three year run in Cambridge Massachusetts, this publication tells the story of a hitherto unknown exhibition venue. Between 1972-1975, Project Inc., a neighborhood art center better known for its after-school fingerpainting classes, staged a series of over 30 one-night art shows and emerged as a prescient record of a time. Heavyweight conceptualists like Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner and Dan Graham, then unknown in Boston, shared the roster with ‘Pictures Generation’ artists like Jack Goldstein, Matt Mullican, David Salle, as well as other notables like Laurie Anderson, Martha Wilson and David Askevold.

“It was at Project Inc., between 1972 and 1975, that Conceptualism passed the baton to the new post-Conceptual art in the form of one-day exhibitions and events by an impressive roster of Conceptual and Performance artists…An important group exhibition…entitled Indian Summer…could be described as the first presentation in embryonic form of what would become the Pictures sensibility.” Douglas Eklund, THE PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984

In the early seventies, the urge to purge art of any and all complacent, predictable, bourgeoise expectations was strong and the shows at Project Inc. reflected this. Jay Jaroslav was arrested by the FBI a week before his show, Willoughby Sharp performed naked while tripping on LSD, and Wolfgang Stoerchle’s penis-oriented performance caused an uproar. A number of important works premiered there, like Mullican’s Essex, on view in Blues For Smoke at the Whitney, and Michael Asher’s 1973 film screening, re-enacted at Orchard in 2005.

Before public funding of the arts, this proto-alternative space flew far below the radar and most of the shows were seen by very few people. The series ended in 1975 when McMahon moved to New York to become Helene Winer’s Assistant Director at Artists Space, a job he left in 1977 to embark upon an eclectic and creative anti-career, all but disappearing from the art world until his inclusion in the PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 at the Metropolitan Museum in 2009. Since then the Project Inc. archives have been acquired by the CCS at Bard and Churner and Churner published this book in conjunction with their eponymous show in July 2012.

Pictured is Paul McMahon (in potato suit) with Louise Lawler and baby Felix Buchloh at his last signing at Printed Matter in 1985. Courtesy of Paul MacMahon.