Image and (Con)Text: S.M.S. #2

The second issue of S.M.S., from April 1968, with which the Helga de Alvear Museum Library continues its exhibition program Image and (Con)Text, is an exponent of the climate of freedom that united all participants.

July 27th, 2021 to September 30th, 2021

The second issue of S.M.S., from April 1968, with which the Helga de Alvear Museum Library continues its exhibition program Image and (Con)Text, is an exponent of the climate of freedom that united all participants. S.M.S. was understood by its promoters, William Nelson Copley and Dimitri Petrov, as a small collection of works of art or “a collection of multiple originals”. It was a utopia, a surprise, a portfolio loaded with innovative and audacious proposals, singular and rabidly free, whose only link seemed to be their distance from the traditional model of the work of art. S.M.S. found in the multiple, the magazine format and in subscribers’ direct mailing an escape route to the aura of the unique object and to the artistic institutions. It was economical, fast and accessible to wider sectors of the public. A publication that pushed the magazine format to its limits: it could be read and seen, it was halfway between a periodical and a work of art and, as such, could be stocked on the shelf or hung on the wall.

Generationally distant names with varied levels of recognition coexist in this second issue: Marcel Duchamp, Meret Oppenheim, Nicolas Calas, George Reavy, Clovis Trouille, Bruce Conner, Ray Jonhson, Alain Jacquet, Lee Lozano, Marcia Herscovitz or Bernard Pfreim. Through them, the surrealist affiliation of the magazine’s promoter is reaffirmed, while simultaneously his affinity for the new movements of the previous decade becomes visible, notably for Pop art and the New Figuration, the Fluxus movement and conceptual art. And in this coexistence, surrealism is revisited through the lens of the new social and economic context of the sixties, as well as the constant crossing of the technical and iconographic resources of both.

On the other hand, the prevalence of the surrealist spirit gives greater protagonism to humor, beginning with the two textual interventions of the folder, made by Marcel Duchamp. This continues on the inside with the remaining works that, touched by absurdity, estrangement or irony, establish formal, metaphorical, linguistic or conceptual relationships amongst themselves in a sort of transversal and productive collaboration.

In order to allow the viewer to experience the full mail art experience, that is, to witness firsthand the ritual of receiving, the wait of a careful unpacking and the delicacy required to unfold and manipulate each art piece to get a complete reading and contemplation, we have created a facsimile of the first issue of S.M.S. which is available for consultation in our library.

María Jesús Ávila

Doctor in Art History from the University of Extremadura in 1995 with a thesis on Ortega Muñoz, which formed the basis for the book of the same title published by Caja Badajoz. She was a lecturer in the Department of Art History of the University of Extremadura (1995-1999) and of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2005-2006). From 1994-2007 she was Curator of the Museu do Chiado-Museo Nacional de Art Contemporânea and of the Culturgest in Lisboa. From there, she organised a number of individual exhibitions such as Rolando Sá Nogueira, Mário Eloy, Heim Semke, Ana Hatherly, and collective exhibitions such as Primeiros Modernismos em Portugal, A cor como experiência, Surrealismo em Portugal 1934-1952 and 1960-1980 Anos de normalização artística nas colecções do Museu do Chiado. She was a member of the curator team of the Art Contemporáneo fair, Foro Sur, in Cáceres.

She has done research work and has collaborated with texts in catalogues and journals about Portuguese art and artists: António Pedro, Jose de Almada Negreiros, Jorge Vieira, Ângela Ferreira, Susanne Themlitz and Augusto Alves da Silva. She has also worked on the three volumes of the catalogue of the collections of the Museu do Chiado (2011-2013).

She is a co-author of the first catalogues raisonnés produced in Portugal: Joaquim Rodrigo and Julião Sarmento. Edições numeradas. She has published research work on Spanish-Portuguese relations during the 20th century in specialist journals and in the catalogue of the exhibition De Picasso a Dalí. She has also collaborated with art journals including Arte Ibérica and Espaços, and in congresses and colloquiums.

In the field of museology she directed the course Producción de exposiciones temporales for the Portuguese Museums Network (2002-2005) and has collaborated with specialist journals and congresses such as, Revista de APHA, Studies in conservation and the minutes of the congress Modern Paints Uncovered (Getty, 2006) and ICOM-CC (2011). She is a member of the Scientific Committee of the journal MIDAS (2012-2014) and collaborates with the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in the joint direction of projects, masters and doctoral theses on documentation and conservation of contemporary art. She is currently joint director of the thesis Conservation y valorización de la Colección de fotografía y vídeo de Ângelo de Sousa and is a director member of the team for the research project Documentação da Art Contemporânea, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

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