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Collections / April 11, 2017—

Ecart Espace

Ecart is a group of artists, an independent space, and a publishing company, founded in Geneva by John Armleder, Patrick Lucchini, and Claude Rychner in 1969. An extension of the "non-artistic" activities—ranging from rowing to the "tea ceremony"—of a group of friends, Ecart quickly established itself as a reference site for the dissemination in Europe of artistic practices associated with Fluxus. Opening with a festival of happenings, the Ecart "gallery" devoted exhibitions to Daniel Spoerri, George Brecht, Ben, Ken Friedman, Manon, Olivier Mosset, Endre Tôt, etc., while Editions Ecart published Genesis P.-Orridge, Lawrence Weiner, Annette Messager, Sarkis, and many others. If we add to this list the organization of Dada and Fluxus recitals, the group's own artistic activities, and the opening of a bookshop devoted to artists' books and periodicals, we get some measure of the protean output that made Ecart an important link in the "Eternal Network" Robert Filliou talked of.

At the heart of Ecart's activities were a number of clusters of problematics that were crucial to the period: the central role accorded to printed matter in the 1960s and 1970s; the "performative paradigm" that prevailed with Fluxus; working as a collective and all the types of authorial delegation that can result from it; as well as exchange systems such as Mail art. At the same time Ecart was the place where the individual practice of John Armleder, a central figure in the group, emerged and developed. Moreover, from 1981 on it was his own works that he concentrated on, and the group disbanded the following year.

The Ecart space at MAMCO set out to make the theoretical problems raised visible—particularly where curatorial procedures themselves are concerned, with a certain number of "reinterpretations." All the books published by the group are presented, as well as several "collective collages," the group's films, and "enactments" of scores by Dick Higgins and Lawrence Weiner.

Meanwhile, Fluxus has entered the storerooms of museums, ever more interested in integrating "archives” and many artistic practices that did not fit into the traditional fine arts categories. Today, these forms and these attitudes might be seen as the final moments of the figure of the artist as a "player," rejecting all expertise, and still refusing to be categorized as a "professional artist."

The project has received the generous support of Fondation Leenaards.

Views of the Ecart Espace, MAMCO, 2017.
MAMCO collection.
Photos: Annik Wetter—MAMCO, Geneva.