M HKA, Antwerp
01 June 2018 - 06 January 2019
© Photo: Maria Gilissen
A 37 90 89: BEYOND THE MUSEUM
Curator: Barbara Vanderlinden
In May 1969, a loosely connected group of artists and enthusiasts of the White Wide Space Gallery announced the creation of a new centre for art and communication in Antwerp. The German curator Kasper Koenig headed up A 37 90 89. “’A’ stands for ‘A’, ‘ABC’, anti-art, and-so-on,” he wrote in an announcement letter. “37 90 89 is the telephone number. The number will be answered round the clock.”
A 37 90 89 started with a champagne breakfast on July 21 1969 during the live broadcast of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon. In the following six months, it brought together Western European and North American neo-avant-garde artists in Antwerp. Their artistic actions posed fundamental questions on art and its institutions in a social context. James Lee Byars, for example, realised a live-experiment on television, radio and telephone, collecting questions worldwide, Marcel Broodthaers installed his migrating Musée d'Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Addi Køpcke, Thomas Schmit, and Robin Page, replicated the bar Amadou in A 37 90 89 and Jörg Immendorff and his LIDL collective organized the LIDL Sports Week.
Although A 37 90 89 was only open for six months, almost 50 years later it still influences the discussions about the dilemma of museums, and their difficulties in embracing experimental principles. This archive-exhibition wants to detail A 37 90 89’s intentions and history and consists of three elements: a looping film which scrolls through all the historical documents, while male and female voiceovers read out excerpts from the archive; a photo exhibition by Maria Gilissen and a re-enactment of LIDL Sports Week by Josef Dabernig.
Photo caption: A 37 90 89, Beeldhouwersstraat 46 in Antwerp, ca. Juni 1969. Photo: Maria Gilissen