David Lamelas

David Lamelas. Photo: Celeste Leeuwenburg Cancela

 

David Lamelas (*1946) is a key figure in the history of conceptual art and experimental film. His nomadic practice comprising film and video, performance, photography, sculpture, installation and drawing is as pioneering as it is complex, eluding tidy categorization. Works by the Argentina-born artist, who lives between Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Paris, focus on the viewer’s own perception and critically assess mechanisms of cultural production. Central to Lamelas’s oeuvre is the notion of time and what people make of it.

 

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The artist first trained as a sculptor in Buenos Aires, and the earliest phase of his work is characterized by an attempt to leave the material objecthood of the sculptural behind. Having started with extensive, painted sculptures that invaded the traditional viewing space, Lamelas cultivated a practice of non-material sculpture and media-based intervention. Subsequent works including Situacion de Tiempo (Situation of Time, 1967) and Signaling of Three Objects (1968) use a minimalist formal vocabulary to turn the viewer’s spatial and temporal experience into an object in its own right. Engaged in a specific kind of institutional critique, he began to analyze what might be considered exhibition space and developed an exhibition politics based on a radical empowerment of the viewer.

The artist’s unusually peripatetic life between cities including Brussels, Los Angeles, New York, Berlin and Paris began with his move to London in the late 1960s. What followed was a sweeping expansion of his practice and the creation of a now-iconic array of works that explored concrete phenomena of time and zeitgeist: the Time as Activity series (1969–present), for example, an arbitrary capturing of everyday urban life in different cities, is a fusion of film, installation and social sculpture. Another example is Time (1970), a performance involving a line of participants standing in a row, telling the person next to them the time at 60-second intervals. Or the 1974 photo series Rock Star (Character Appropriation), for which Lamelas had himself photographed in a variety of clichéd rock singer poses, exposing the idea of the “star” as at least partially the product of photographic imaging strategies.

The 1970s marked the beginning of an intensified probing of the modes of film, a medium Lamelas would ultimately prefer for “capturing time.” His 1974 film The Desert People was an experimental portrait of Los Angeles. Other works including The Dictator (1977), Scheherazade (1980) and The Dictator Returns (1984)—made in collaboration with video artist Hildegarde Duane—consisted in improvised, current events-sensitive parodies of soap operas and television journalism. Later films such as The Invention of Dr. Morel (2000) and In Our Time (2018) take up strategies common to period films and documentaries. Lamelas’s cinematic works emulate the attention-grabbing strategies of commercial Hollywood film and criticize them at the same time. His deconstructive approach shatters traditional narrative logics, diverting focus to the gap between “film time” and “real time,” or the time inhabited by viewers watching the film. They absorb the zeitgeist and put the present itself center stage.

Lamelas’s art bears witness to a radical life experiment. One reason for the difficulty of pinpointing his practice is that it always enters into a critical dialogue with the aesthetic, chronological and geographic conditions of the art system he found at the particular location and time of the work’s creation. His oeuvre has consequently become part of a series of art-historical narratives. Situated in neither centers nor peripheries, and at home in multiple, synchronous spaces, his inimitable work captures an elusive quality of time.

 

David Lamelas: The Life of Ideas
Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 2018
Video courtesy Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles 2018

Works
David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning), 1972

David Lamelas
Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning), 1972
Installation with 16mm film and three slide carousels, 69 slides each
Dimensions variable

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974
Series of eleven black-and-white photographs
Silver gelatin print on barite paper, photographed from the original contact sheets
20 × 20 cm each
7 7/8 × 7 7/8 inches each

More views
David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Time, 1970

David Lamelas
Time, 1970
Performance
Duration variable

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
Eight color prints and 16mm film, color (8:00 min)
30.5 × 27 cm each
12 × 10 3/4 inches each

More views
David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Rock Star (Character Appropriation), 1974

David Lamelas
Rock Star (Character Appropriation), 1974
Seven black-and-white photographs on aluminum
30.5 × 40.5 cm each
12 × 16 inches each

More views
David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014
16mm film, black and white, with sound (6:50 min)
Ten black-and-white photographs and ten pages of handwritten text
Photographs: 17.8 × 24.3 cm each
Pages: 29.7 × 21 cm each
Photographs: 7 × 9 5/8 inches each
Pages: 11 3/4 × 8 1/4 inches each

More views
David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Corner Piece, 1966

David Lamelas
Corner Piece, 1966
Drywall construction
760 × 200 × 200 cm
299 1/8 × 78 3/4 × 78 3/4 inches

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Untitled (Falling Wall), 1993

David Lamelas
Untitled (Falling Wall), 1993
Drywall construction, larch wood trunks
20.0 × 7.60 × 5.0 m
787 3/8 × 299 1/8 × 196 7/8 inches

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Situation of Time, 1967

David Lamelas
Situation of Time, 1967
Installation with seventeen TV sets
Dimensions variable

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
Time As Activity Düsseldorf, 1969

David Lamelas
Time As Activity Düsseldorf, 1969
16mm film, black and white
12:55 min

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
A Study of the Relationship Between Inner and Outer Space, 1969

David Lamelas
A Study of the Relationship Between Inner and Outer Space, 1969
16mm film, black and white
19:35 min

David Lamelas
David Lamelas
El Super Elástico, 1965/2007

David Lamelas
El Super Elástico, 1965/2007
Painted wood
Wall component: 447 × 246.4 × 266.7 cm
Floor component: 271.8 × 271.8 × 67.3 cm
Wall component: 176 × 97 × 105 inches
Floor component: 107 × 107 × 26 1/2 inches
Overall dimensions variable

Details
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning), 1972
Installation with 16mm film and three slide carousels, 69 slides each
Dimensions variable

David Lamelas
Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning), 1972
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974
Series of eleven black-and-white photographs
Silver gelatin print on barite paper, photographed from the original contact sheets
20 × 20 cm each
7 7/8 × 7 7/8 inches each

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974 (detail)

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974 (detail)

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974 (detail)

David Lamelas
London Friends, 1974
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Time, 1970
Performance
Duration variable

David Lamelas
Time, 1970
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
Eight color prints and 16mm film, color (8:00 min)
30.5 × 27 cm each
12 × 10 3/4 inches each

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972 (detail)

David Lamelas
To pour milk into a glass, 1972
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Rock Star (Character Appropriation), 1974
Seven black-and-white photographs on aluminum
30.5 × 40.5 cm each
12 × 16 inches each

David Lamelas
Rock Star (Character Appropriation), 1974
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Rock Star (Character Appropriation), 1974 (detail)

David Lamelas
Rock Star (Character Appropriation), 1974
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014
16mm film, black and white, with sound (6:50 min)
Ten black-and-white photographs and ten pages of handwritten text
Photographs: 17.8 × 24.3 cm each
Pages: 29.7 × 21 cm each
Photographs: 7 × 9 5/8 inches each
Pages: 11 3/4 × 8 1/4 inches each

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014 (detail)

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014 (detail)

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014
David Lamelas
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014 (detail)

David Lamelas
Interview with Marguerite Duras, 1970–2014
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Corner Piece, 1966
Drywall construction
760 × 200 × 200 cm
299 1/8 × 78 3/4 × 78 3/4 inches

David Lamelas
Corner Piece, 1966
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Untitled (Falling Wall), 1993
Drywall construction, larch wood trunks
20.0 × 7.60 × 5.0 m
787 3/8 × 299 1/8 × 196 7/8 inches

David Lamelas
Untitled (Falling Wall), 1993
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Situation of Time, 1967
Installation with seventeen TV sets
Dimensions variable

David Lamelas
Situation of Time, 1967
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
Time As Activity Düsseldorf, 1969
16mm film, black and white
12:55 min

David Lamelas
Time As Activity Düsseldorf, 1969
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
A Study of the Relationship Between Inner and Outer Space, 1969
16mm film, black and white
19:35 min

David Lamelas
A Study of the Relationship Between Inner and Outer Space, 1969
David Lamelas

David Lamelas
El Super Elástico, 1965/2007
Painted wood
Wall component: 447 × 246.4 × 266.7 cm
Floor component: 271.8 × 271.8 × 67.3 cm
Wall component: 176 × 97 × 105 inches
Floor component: 107 × 107 × 26 1/2 inches
Overall dimensions variable

David Lamelas
El Super Elástico, 1965/2007
Details
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Current and Upcoming
David Lamelas

Images Liées
David Lamelas
Château de Servières, Marseille
October 9–December 19, 2020

For the first time, the Château de Servières is dedicating its entire 1,000 m2 space to the presentation of the Images Liées, an exhibition of video works imagined by Martine Robin and Josée Gensollen. The curators propose a reflection on the notion of the hyphen, offered as a research theme by the Manifesta 13 Marseille Biennial, and give us three possible interpretations: hyphen(s) in the relational, the couple, the subsidiary dyads; hyphen(s) in the exploration of borders, revolts and resistances; hyphen(s) in the passage from life to death. This corpus of works by international artists, with the participation of seven local artists, will be presented in a space entirely redesigned for the event.

Link

Artissima XYZ: Back to the Future
David Lamelas
Online Exhibition
November 3–December 9, 2020

Artissima, International Fair of Contemporary Art, is pleased to announce the creation of Artissima XYZ, an original cross-media platform that transforms the curated sections of the fair into an immersive digital experience. The curated sections of the fair are Present Future, Back to the Future, Disegni. Back to the Future is the section devoted to great pioneers of contemporary art. The section – also open to Artists’ Estates – displays works realized between 1960 and 1999. It aims to bring international artists who have played a fundamental role in contemporary art back into the limelight.

Link
David Lamelas
David Lamelas, Quand le ciel est bas et lourd (When the sky is low and heavy), 1987–1992. Installation view, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Jan Mot, Brussels. Photo: Philippe De Gobert.
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers

David Lamelas
January 29–April 2, 2016
Berlin

David Lamelas has been an iconic figure in conceptual art for over fifty years. In the 1960s and 1970s, his early experiments in structuralist film and media installations evolved an on-going exploration of a number of core conceptualist concerns. For his fourth solo show with Sprüth Magers, he brings together a range of important film and sculptural works dating from 1966 to 1993 that thrive with antagonisms of space and language, the limit of art’s temporality, as well as its potential for providing new models of knowledge and self-awareness. In addition, a thoughtful reconsideration of his 1970s ‘Reading Films’ is presented in a new multimedia installation, Mon Amour (2014).

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David Lamelas
David Lamelas

Source Codes
Kenneth Anger, Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Bruce Conner, Richard Hamilton, David Lamelas, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Lucas Samaras, John Stezaker, Paul Thek
June 26–August 29, 2009
Berlin

Source Codes juxtaposes a selection of works by a number of artists and filmmakers from Europe and America who mapped essential conceptual groundwork in the 1960s and 1970s and whose work remains influential to many artists today By examining new ways to rethink and translate visual information and cultural codes in the gaps between Minimalism and Pop Art, and through an interest in process-based performative practice, their work has exerted significant influence on younger artists in a variety of ways.

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David Lamelas

Uneasy Angel / Imagine Los Angeles
Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, Patterson Beckwith, Lecia Dole-Recio, Jack Goldstein, Richard Hawkins, Patrick Hill, Sister Corita Kent, Norman M. Klein, Barbara Kruger, David Lamelas, John McCracken, Matthew Monahan, Lari Pittman, Sterling Ruby, Allen Ruppersberg, Lara Schnitger, Kim Schoenstadt, Paul Sietsema, Catherine Sullivan, Robert Therrien, Pae White
curated by Johannes Fricke Waldthausen
September 14–November 3, 2007
Munich

Uneasy Angel / Imagine Los Angeles is a thematic exhibition comprising the creative production of contemporary artists, writers, and filmmakers living and working in Los Angeles. In light of Umberto Eco’s and Jean Baudrillard’s notion of hyperreality, the exhibition perceives Los Angeles as just such a place—with unclear boundaries separating reality and the imaginary.

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David Lamelas
September 6–September 29, 2007
London

David Lamelas emerged in the early sixties with an arsenal of artistic strategies and a clarity of concept that at the time had not previously been formulated within any cultural context in Europe and the United States. Characteristically, his use of different media is wide ranging, and has included sculpture, site specific installation and performance, as well as drawings, photographs and film, the latter of which he is perhaps most known for. What unifies this wide range of medium is the artist‘s focus on the transmission of “information”: the conditions for the production of art and its perception, the notion of 'time' and 'space', the role of the viewer, and perhaps more crucially the generation and manipulation of meaning in contemporary mass media.

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David Lamelas
Press

David Lamelas Shows What Happens When an Artist Never Stops Moving
Artsy, article by Scott Indrisek, September 24, 2018

David Lamelas’s Works Have a Life of Their Own
Frieze, article by John Quin, April 28, 2018

David Lamelas: Sprüth Magers Los Angeles
Artforum, article by Amy Campbell, September 25, 2017

Bahnhof Wilhelmshöhe: David Lamelas
Kunstforum International, article by Susanne Boecker and Sabine B. Vogel, August/September 2017

‘I think of myself as a producer of ideas’
Apollo Magazine, article by Imelda Barnard, August 28, 2017

David Lamelas: time zones
The Art Newspaper, article by Louisa Buck, July/August 2017

Publication by David Lamelas
Art Review, article by Chris Fite-Wassilak, October 2016

David Lamelas
Flash Art, interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Pierre Huyghe, June 5, 2016

David Lamelas: V
Art Review, article by Aoife Rosenmeyer, December 2014

David Lamelas
Zero Deux, interview by Patrice Joly

David Lamelas
Afterall, article by Chus Martinez and Stuart Comer, November 2010

On The Road
Frieze, interview by Ian White, June/August 2006

Biography

David Lamelas (*1946, Buenos Aires) lives in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. Selected solo exhibitions include CGAC – Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela (2021), MSU Broad Museum, Michigan and MALBA, Buenos Aires (both 2018), University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach (2017), Kunsthalle Basel and FRAC Lorraine, Metz (both 2014), Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2013), Kunstmuseum Basel (2008), Secession, Vienna (2006), Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City (2005), ICA Philadelphia (2004), Kunstverein München, Munich and Witte de With, Rotterdam (both 1997). Selected group exhibitions include MAMBA, Buenos Aires (2018), Documenta 14, Kassel and MACBA, Barcelona (both 2017), Inhotim, Mexico City and Museum of Modern Art, New York (both 2016), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008), Documenta 5, Kassel (1972), Venice Biennale (1968) and São Paulo Biennial (1967).

Education
1969 M.A., St. Martin's School of Art, London
1969 B.A., Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
1993 Guggenheim Fellowship, New York
1968 British Arts Council Fellowship, London
1967 Award for Sculpture, IX Bienal de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
1967 Premio Georges Braques, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
1966 Premio Georges Braques, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
1966 Jury Special Award, Premio Nacional, Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires
1966 Plastica con plasticos, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
1965 Premio de honor ver y estimar, Galeria Van Riel, Buenos Aires
Public Collections
Centre Pompidou, Paris
FRAC Languedoc-Roussilon, Montpellier
Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
Lux Collection, London
MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
MHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Rosario, Santa Fe
Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Tate, London
Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis
49 NORD6 EST, Frac Lorraine, Metz