Sep 8–Dec 12, 2004

Ant Farm: 1968–1978

Ant Farm: 1968–1978, 2004, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

Ant Farm, 2004

Ant Farm: 1968–1978, 2004, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

Ant Farm was founded by Chip Lord and Doug Michaels in 1968 amidst the hot-house San Francisco counter-culture. Influenced by “alternative” architects like Buckminster Fuller, Archigram, and Superstudio, Ant Farm’s early inflatable structures were suited to a nomadic, communal lifestyle, divergent from the mainstream Brutalist architecture of the 1960s. The group was also known for spectacular performance events like “Media Burn” (1975), for which Lord and Michaels dressed up like astronauts and sped a customized Cadillac El Dorado through a pyramid of burning televisions.

Ant Farm officially disbanded in 1978 after a fire in their San Francisco studio destroyed a great deal of their work. Much of their photographic documentation and videotapes survived, however, and this, along with a wide range of Ant Farm materials organized into a visual “timeline,” will form the core of the exhibition. A comprehensive catalogue, published by UC Press, will accompany the exhibition. It includes essays by Caroline Maniaque, Michael Sorkin, Steve Seid, a conversation among Constance Lewallen, Chip Lord, Doug Michels, and Curtis Schreier, an Ant Farm-designed timeline, and a reprint of Lord’s essay on American car culture, Automerica.

—Constance M. Lewallen, Senior Curator, Berkeley Art Museum, and Steve Seid, Video Curator, Pacific Film Archive

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ICA gratefully acknowledges the lead sponsorship of Kieran Timberlake Associates, LLP Stephen Kieran, FAIA and James Timberlake, FAIA and the generous support of the Goldberg Foundation, Inc. Additional support has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; The Dietrich Foundation Inc.; MGA Partners, Architects; the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA; and the University of Pennsylvania.