‘East Coast, West Coast’ at Texas State Galleries
Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson’s collaborative videowork East Coast, West Coast features in the exhibition 1969: East Coast, West Coast and Real Time Systems at Texas State Galleries. Located at Texas State University in San Marcos, the exhibition is on display from August 26 to September 29, 2019.
This exhibition program pairs East Coast, West Coast with an essay by the art critic and theorist Jack Burnham titled Real Time Systems, published in Artforum that same year. In Burnham’s text he asserts "There are two kinds of artists: those who work within the art system, and those few who work with the art system.” The article, a follow-up to his 1968 essay Systems Esthetics, characterizes art in terms of the artist’s production of artwork relative to the “real time systems” governing how we see and understand the world.
East Coast, West Coast was recorded in the studio of artist Joan Jonas, who appears in the film, and was filmed by Peter Campus using a rented camera. Their impromptu exchange was screened for artist-friends Michael Heizer, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, and Jackie Winsor the same evening. In the video Holt and Smithson improvise a conversation based on opposing — and stereotypical — positions of East Coast and West Coast art of the late 1960s, with both frequently using the term "system."
Still from Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, East Coast, West Coast (1969)
Video, 22 min, b&w, sound
Art © Holt/Smithson Foundation, licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York
Distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix