Last Friday, the exhibition The Making of Avalanche 1970-1976: Archival Clues opened at Torpedo Bookstore in Oslo Kunsthall. During this occasion, Kunstkritikk had the opportunity to do a video interview with Liza Béar, the co-founder of Avalanche magazine and the woman responsible for the exhibition.
Liza Béar started the cutting-edge art magazine Avalanche together with Willoughby Sharp in 1968. They published their first issue in 1970, and continued to work together on thirteen issues until 1976. The magazine was an immediate success and functioned as much as an exhibition space and artist publication, as it did a magazine. Béar and Sharp’s work was radical, especially in the ways that they used the form of the magazine to portray various artists’ practice. Likewise, their use of the interview format, process-based photography, and the layout and design of their advertisements gave them ample opportunity to work hands-on with seminal art and artists.
Many of the artists who were included in Avalanche were considered trailblazers in new media from the 60s and 70s: Bas Jan Ader, Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Chris Burden, Daniel Buren, Gordon Matta-Clark, Hanne Darboven, General Idea, Gilbert & George, Bruce Nauman, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Smithson, Joel Shapiro, Jack Smith, Keith Sonnier, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, the Western Front and Jackie Winsor. In addition to being important historical documentation, Avalanche is still highly relevant today, as interest in its artistic methods has once again surfaced.
The exhibition at Kunsthall Oslo consists of archival material from Avalanche and was assembled by Liza Béar from her personal archive. Excerpts from audiotapes, photographs, correspondences, layout sketches and edited transcripts are shown together with video works, such as Béar’s Five Video Pioneers (1977) and Jackie Winsor: Work in Progress (1975-1978); Willoughby Sharp Videoviews Vito Acconci (1973), and Videoviews Joseph Beuys (1973). The exhibition also shows videos of well-known artists such as John Baldessari—Baldessari sings Lewitt (1972); Joan Jonas’s Veptical Roll (1972); Vito Acconci’s Undertone (1972); and William Wegman’s Selected Works: Reel 2 (1972).
The Making of Avalanche 1970-1976: Archival Clues gives a unique perspective of art production in the 1970s. All the editions of Avalanche have been reprinted by the New York-based publishing house, Primary Information, and are for sale at Torpedo for the duration of the exhibition.