Clip/Stamp: Folded, still unfolding

On to happier news.

Nurri and I squeaked in at the last minute to see the incredible Clip/Stamp/Fold show at Storefront, and dag but I’m glad we did.

Schematically, all the show consists of is a collection of architecture-themed “little magazines” produced between the early 1960s and the moment the last wave of post-’68 inspiration guttered out into exhaustion, dispersion, and corporate postmodernism at the dawn of the unlamented ’80s. That’s all it is. (Heh: “All.”)

Some artifacts just contain so much condensed becoming – even in reproduction, even in goofily appropriate hemispherical Plexiglas vitrines, even forty years down the line – that being exposed to them has the power to spin you silly, you know? I haven’t been this physically torqued up by a show since the original Archigram retrospective at Thread Waxing Space some ten years ago: I wanted to jump off the walls, tear holes in them, make new ones with the debris. Anything to give vent to that incandescent sense of possibility.

Why? Well, consider: in one rather ductile space, absorbed over the course of an hour: the object-oriented provocations of Internationale Situationiste and Clip-Kit. Metabolist stirrings, in Kenchiku Bunka. Architecture Principe, Paul Virilio’s first major platform. The Japanese ARCHITEXT and the Catalonian Arquitecturas Bis. Inevitably, Ron Herron’s redoubtable Walking City, striding jauntily from one cover to another. My beloved Whole Earth Catalog, finally considered in its most appropriate context as generator of specifically archisocial potential. Some of these are near-legendary objects of discourse and even veneration, others have remained obscure, but in varying proportions they all of them contain some of the essence of whatever it is that makes life worth living and cities worth citying.

My only analogies for what all this does to a body are musical ones. The Ramones playing London in ’76, bringing the Word and setting fire to the long arc of homegrown British punkrock. The Velvet Underground (in Brian Eno’s famous and possibly apocryphal formulation, anyway) only ever selling a hundred records but instilling in every last one of those hundred punters the desire/necessity to start a band of their own.

You tend to forget what optimism looks like, feels like. Well there it was: splayed across Storefront’s walls, for all and any to see and to use. My tremendous respect and gratitute to everyone who made these ‘zines what they were in the first place, to everyone who saved them for a day they might plug into new configurations, and to those who gathered them that they might be discovered anew.

UPDATE: Yes: under the influence, variously, of a long immersion in digital mediation, of not enough caffeine, or of the aforementioned glee, I mistitled this entry “Click/Stamp/Fold,” and not once but twice. D’oh.

3 responses to “Clip/Stamp: Folded, still unfolding”

  1. Jamie says :

    Thank you for the excellent review of a great show at one of NYC’s treasures.

    For others in the NYC area who missed the exhibition but are curious to recover a related sense of the age before pixels and bytes ruled all, two other exhibitions going on right now include the very fun “Impulse Archaeology” show at White Box through March 3, 2007, and “Radical Living Papers: A History of the Free, Alternative, Counter-culture and Underground Press, 1967-’75” at GBE/Passerby, with Thurston Moore as a curator, through March 7, 2007.

  2. Dan says :

    Sounds awesome, Adam, cheers. Was there/is there a catalogue? (I think I still owe you the ‘Future City’ one, right?!)

  3. speedbird says :

    Heh, don’t worry about it – the “Future City” catalogue was finally commercially published, and I have it on pre-order at Amazon.

    W/R/T Clip/Stamp/Fold, there was no catalogue per se, but (rather appropriately, I thought) a broadsheet on pulp. I’ll throw some scans up if I get the chance.

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