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Citizen Artists: Group Material

Felix Gonzalez-Torres on the opening day of Group Material, AIDS Timeline, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, 30 September 1990. Courtesy the artists and Four Corners Books
Alison Green discusses the contemporary relevance of Group Material’s use of artistic and activist strategies, and how their practice might disrupt current narratives of the ‘social turn’. The dismantling of the progressive economic and cultural changes of the 1960s began in earnest in the 1980s, and Group Material’s overall project was imagined in this period of attempted historical erasure.’ So opens Doug Ashford’s text in the recent publication Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material (2010). It is an apt beginning to remembering how embattled the Left was in the 1980s, and to thinking retrospectively through the impact and importance of the trenchant and timely work of Group Material, the New York based collective active from 1979 to 1996.