Radical/Basic/Actual – 1970s Experiments in Print Media

Felipe Ehrenberg, Latin American Artists and the Beau Geste Press (Devon, 1970-1976)

10 October – 14 November 2016

Friday 14 October at 5:30pm: Opening of the exhibition and curator’s talk, followed by a wine reception

This exhibition has been created in Association with Cambridge University Library and Trinity College

Curator: Erica Segre

The Mexican mixed media, conceptual and performance artist Felipe Ehrenberg and Martha Hellion co-founded the Beau Geste Press collective in Devon (1970-1976) with English artist and art historian David Mayor. It became one of the most influential avant-garde independent presses of the post-war period and is regarded by art historians and contemporary artists as one of the most significant transnational collaborative projects of the 1970s. This unconventional workshop/taller and community of printers became influential by producing and publishing print objects of a new, heterogeneous, radical aesthetic that was often engaged in the counterculture and in the blurring of disciplinary boundaries across creative media, gender and politics. In collaboration with international and national artists many of whom were associated with the Fluxus movement, the BGP produced diverse limited edition works, concept booklets, pamphlets, magazines, flyers and postcards using experimental techniques of graphic design including inserts, folded pages, stencil signage, applied materials, photographs, stamps and collage while also revisiting the artisanal in printing styles of production. Through this vital creative centre, Ehrenberg, a self-confessed ‘neologist’ created a multidimensional web of collaborations (often eclectic and intermedial) predicated on experimental and alternative processes of image and textual interplay centred on the UK.

In 1972 the BGP launched the legendary Schmuck – a periodical of ideas and anti-authoritarian art practice organised around a specific culture or region. Key artists, poets, musicians and theorists such as Cecilia Vicuña, Ulises Carrión, Helen Chadwick, Carolee Schneemann, Claudio Bertoni, Michael Nyman, Opal L.Nations and Ben Vautier created pioneering print artefacts that have become landmarks of the international dimension of a dissident art practice exemplified by the Beau Geste Press.

The exhibition showcases a collection of these provocative and original limited editions often made using unconventional materials and ‘arte povera’ techniques of production and distribution in an unusual variety of small-scale formats. It explores the legacy of indiscipline of the BGP’s uniquely communal and discrepant artefacts.