A part-time tutor at St Martin’s School discovers novel way of realising Art and Culture.

A part-time tutor at St Martin’s School of Art withdrew a book from the college library in August 1966. His name was John Latham and the book in question was Art and Culture, an essay collection by the doyen of modernism, Clement Greenberg. But Latham didn’t read the book. Instead, he invited friends, students and fellow artists to his house for what he called a “Still and Chew” event. Participants were asked to select a page, chew it to a pulp, and then spit the resultant “distillation” into a flask. Latham added acid, sodium bicarbonate and yeast (“an Alien Culture”), and left the fertile brew to bubble gently.

There it remained until the following May, when the library requested the book’s return, because, as Latham put it, a student of painting was “in urgent need of Art and Culture”. What he delivered instead was a small, stoppered phial, neatly labelled “Art and Culture/Clement Greenberg/Distillation 1966”.

"You can’t buy it; it doesn’t exist. But it’s free if you want it"

The library was not amused. Latham was informed that his temporary contract would not be renewed. The vice-principal suggested that he smooth things over by apologising for his “bad joke”, but Latham cheerfully refused, observing that he considered such “event structures” a crucial part of his teaching practice, and more useful to his students than mere theory.

Latham’s distillation was one of the first acts of British conceptual art, and it serves to encapsulate its early mood, the way it turned deconstruction, even destructiveness, into a creative force. But what was Latham actually doing? Was he being prankish, playfully pricking establishment balloons, or was he making a serious point? What does “event structures” even mean? Why Clement Greenberg, and why St Martin’s?

The British conceptual movement of the 60s and 70s changed the face of modern art so fundamentally that it’s hard to reimagine the conditions that precipitated its appearance. Conceptual art was rebellious to its core, a banger in the face of what it saw as stuffy, elitist modernism. This is why Greenberg was a target, though it might also be observed that he had recently described Latham’s book reliefs as “partly cubist”.

Funny, culturing art with yeast!!!!!. No worry, it happened in UK!!!!!!

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/apr/09/conceptual-art-tate-britain-olivia-laing

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