MINNEAPOLIS, October 12 2015—The Walker Art Center is pleased to present Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, a traveling exhibition that examines the intersections of art, architecture, and design of the counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s on view October 24, 2015 through February 28, 2016 in Galleries 1, 2, 3, and the Perlman Gallery. An After Hours preview party takes place October 23, with opening events including film screenings, artist talks, and a panel discussion scheduled for October 24-25.
Organized by the Walker with the assistance of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the exhibition charts the evolution of one of the most fertile periods of recent cultural history that witnessed a variety of radical experiments that challenged convention, overturned traditional hierarchies, explored new media and materials, and formed alternative communities with new ways of living and working together. Many artists, architects, and designers began a search for a new kind of utopia—technical, ecological, political—and with it offered a critique of society.
Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia also considers how the counterculture of the period, once dismissed as both a social and aesthetic failure, embraced many artistic themes and ideas that persist today, including ecological awareness, social practice, and audience participation. It also resonates in a plethora of today’s social arenas, whether the resurgent interest in yoga and spirituality, organic foods, local agriculture, marijuana legalization, climate change, alternative energy, or social protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, to name a few.
“It’s difficult to identify another period of history that has exerted more influence on contemporary culture and politics,” said Andrew Blauvelt, the exhibition curator and Walker Senior Curator of Research, Design and Publishing. “By evoking the term ‘hippie modernism,’ we highlight the creative revolution that challenged exhausted forms of late modern culture and the alienation of advanced industrial society.” Blauvelt continues, “Much of what was produced in the creation of various countercultures did not conform to the traditional definitions of art—and thus it has largely been ignored in official histories of art, architecture, and design. This exhibition and book seeks to redress this oversight.”
Loosely assembled around Timothy Leary’s famous mantra, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,” Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia features a variety of art forms and artifacts, from experimental furniture to alternative living structures, immersive environments, media installations, alternative magazines, experimental books, printed ephemera, and archival films.
Section 1: Tune In
The first section explores the notion of expanding individual consciousness through altered states of perception, whether through pharmacological or technological means. Works include the meditative film work of Jordon Belson; the transcendental paintings of the USCO collective; Bruce Conner’s proto-music video, BREAKAWAY; and conceptual work of radical architectural groups such as Haus-Rucker-Co, Archigram, and Ant Farm.
Section 2: Turn On
The second section explores the notion of social awareness and collective consciousness and action with particular attention paid to the role of books, magazines, posters, and prints as democratic modes of cultural production that helped connect and form new networks of like-minded individuals. Works include Ken Isaac’s pioneering The Knowledge Box (1962/2009), a room-size chamber where one is immersed in a montage of projected images culled from popular press; the graphics designed by Emory Douglas created for the Black Panthers newspaper; and the silk-screened prints of Corita Kent.
Section 3: Drop Out
The final section addresses the refusal to participate in the given structures of normative society and the dissolution of boundaries between art and life, culture and politics. Included in this section are pioneering eco-artists Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison’s Portable Orchard (1972/2015), an installation of citrus trees grown under artificial lighting; Evelyn Roth’s living structures and clothing made from recycled wool; and a recreation of a dome by the Drop City collective, which housed their Ultimate Painting of 1968.
Conceptually bracketed between Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster’s cross-country acid trip of 1964 and the OPEC oil crisis of 1974, which brought into dramatic relief the limits of Western society’s progress, the exhibition explores one of the most vibrant and inventive periods of the not-too-distant past, one that still resonates with culture today.
Following the Walker’s presentation, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia will travel to the Cranbrook Art Museum and the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
Curator: Andrew Blauvelt
The catalogue Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia accompanying the exhibition examines forms of art, architecture, and design that emerged during the 1960s and early 1970s counterculture. In this publication scholars examine a range of practices, such as: radical architectural and anti-design movements emerging from Europe and its North American counterparts; the print revolution in the experimental graphic design of the era’s books, posters, and magazines; and new forms of cultural practice that merged street theater and radical politics. Through a profusion of illustrations, interviews with select artists, and new scholarly writings, this publication explores the hybrid conjunction of hippie ethos and the modernist desire to fuse art and life. Distributed by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers; 456 pages; $55.
Walker After Hours: Hippie Modernism
Friday, October 23
9 pm – 12 am
$30 ($20 Walker members)
This late-night launch party will be a mind-expanding experience. Turn on to the neo-psychedelic rock of Magic Castles, experience your phantasmic self in our Mylar photo booth, and satisfy your munchies in 1960s style. Groove to of-the-era records spun by West Bank Boogie author Cyn Collins. Tune in to the radical art and design of the counterculture or make your own alternate reality. New members receive a free party ticket. For details, call 612.375.7600.
Jordan Belson: Films Sacred and Profane
Saturday, October 24, 11 am FREE
Introduced by Curator/Archivist Cindy Keefer,
Center for Visual Music
Filmmaker/painter Jordan Belson (1926-2011) explored consciousness, transcendence, and light in a visionary body of work often called “cosmic cinema.” This program features rarely screened films Séance (1959), new 16mm preservation prints of LSD (c. 1962), Vortex presentation reel (1959), Chakra (1972), Music of the Spheres (1977), and more. 16mm and digital, program length: 70 minutes. Presented in association with Center for Visual Music.
Hippie Modernism Opening-Day Panel Discussion
Saturday, October 24, 1 pm
$10 ($8 Walker members and students)
Join Andrew Blauvelt, curator of Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, who will provide an overview of the exhibition’s themes and ideas. He will be joined by professors Felicity Scott (Columbia University), Greg Castillo (U.C. Berkeley), and Simon Sadler (U.C. Davis), and moderator Ross Elfline (Carlton College)—noted scholars on the countercultural production of the period and contributors to the exhibition catalogue—for short individual presentations, panel discussion, and an audience question and answer session.
Gallery Talk: Günter Zamp Kelp
Sunday, October 25, 2 pm
Free with gallery admission
Galleries 1, 2, 3 and Perlman Gallery
Haus-Rucker-Co’s radical architectural practice in the late 1960s and 1970s encompassed the use of spectacular inflatable environments, futuristic technological prosthetics, and engaging urban interventions to expand artistic boundaries. The collective’s air-inflated architecture and wearable appendages were designed to alter participants’ social and perceptual experiences.
Join Günter Zamp Kelp, a founding member of the group, who will discuss works featured in the exhibition in an informal gallery talk as well as a rare public lecture about Haus-Rucker-Co’s larger body of work that has proved inspirational to a new generation of artists and designers.
The Cockettes: Dialogue and Film
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Walker Cinema, 6:30 pm and 8 pm FREE
The Cockettes were an artist collective that incorporated music, dance, and a gender-bending visual language of drag into their performances in San Francisco in the 1970s. Join us at the Walker Art Center for a discussion with former member Fayette Hauser and rare screenings of footage of their performances including Palace (1970) and Tricia’s Wedding (1971).
Thursday, November 5
Garden Terrace Room, 6:30 pm FREE
Ten locals share firsthand experiences of life in Minneapolis in the ’60s and ‘70s. Storytellers share their personal photos and histories, with topics ranging from life on the commune, to the American Indian Movement, to Minneapolis’ first co-ops, to the happening music scene on the West Bank.
The Time Is Now!
Thursday, November 12
Entire building, 5 – 9 pm FREE
Teens, the young at heart, Green Room Magazine, and Red76 get together to program an evening of countercultural, cross-generational happenings inspired by Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia as well as music and good vibes for your well-being.
Drop City Screening and Panel Discussion
Walker Cinema, 7 pm
Join us for this documentary about Drop City—the artists’ community formed in southern Colorado in 1965—that became an icon for global counterculture as it strove to create a new civilization on the scrapheap of a wasteful society. Produced with Tom McCourt, animations by Michael Krueger, and music by Julia Crowe and Adam Rudolph. 2012, Blu-ray, 82 minutes.
Post-screening discussion with director Joan Grossman, Drop City founder Gene Bernofsky, and documentary animator Michael Krueger.
Tools for Remediation
Cargill Lounge, 5 – 9 pm
Utilizing the era pinpointed in the exhibition Hippie Modernism (1960s and early 1970s) as a lens, Red76 invites visitors to assemble hand-compiled books reflecting on social upheaval, political inequity, and creative engagement of the social landscape across their own experience, place, and time today.
Lecture: Turning On the Modern, or Turning Against It?
Thursday, November 19
Presented by Lars Bang Larsen
Walker Cinema, 7 pm FREE
The art and culture of the 1960s had high aesthetic and political stakes, but lesser discussed is the decade’s ambiguous and conflicted relation to the category of the modern as such: A struggle of a more philosophical, but no less radical kind.
Visual Revolution: The Art of Emory Douglas
Monday, December 14, 2015
Penumbra Theatre, 5:30 pm
The Walker Art Center and Penumbra Theatre present an intimate conversation with visionary artist Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. During the Party’s active years he served as the art director, overseeing the design and layout of the Party’s weekly newspaper. Part of Penumbra’s Let’s Talk series hosted by Co-Artistic Director Sarah Bellamy, the evening includes insights by special guest Nisa Mackie, Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs at the Walker Art Center, and others. Tickets are available at penumbratheatre.org.
Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia is organized by the Walker Art Center, and assembled with the assistance of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The exhibition is made possible by generous support from the Martin and Brown Foundation, the Prospect Creek Foundation, and Audrey and Zygi Wilf. Support for the exhibition catalogue is provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Walker Art Center publications. Media partner Mpls. St.Paul Magazine.