Liz Kotz’s essay considers the July 2006 performance of composer James Tenney’s 1994 composition In a large open space, which was held in a cold storage warehouse on the semi-industrial outskirts of downtown Los Angeles. Tenney, who died a year ago at the age of 72, was perhaps the last of the “American maverick” composers of the post-World-War-II era. Arguing for the need to recover the rich legacy of experimental sound-based practices such as Tenney’s for contemporary art and culture, Kotz’s text will look back — at his groundbreaking works of the 1960s and the larger impact of experimental music on the visual arts — and forward to the fragile position and crucial value of such difficult and resolutely non-commercial work in today’s market-driven art world.Liz Kotz is a Los Angeles-based art critic and historian. She is the author of Words to be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art (MIT Press, 2007), and co-editor, with Eileen Myles, of The New Fuck You (Semiotexte, 1994). She writes on contemporary art and interdisciplinary avant-gardes of the postwar era, and has published essays on artists including Amy Adler, Lutz Bacher, Phil Collins, Max Neuhaus, Lawrence Weiner, and La Monte Young. She teaches Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of California, Riverside.
2007 — Article
In a Large Open Space