New Contemporaries

>New Contemporaries:  Review by Peter Dunn for Studio International “the New Contemporaries, ‘Live Work’ Show”.

In 1975 Duffy was invited to participate in the New Contemporaries “Live Art” Show in London’s Acme Gallery. The exhibition was a challenging and radical development of the London based New Contemporaries and was organised every year by an ambitious group of students determined to promote what was then avant-garde (this was 20 years before YBA’s, Young British Artists).  Duffy was questioning both the established art ethos as a whole, what he saw as “the banality of much of the ‘Modern Art’ being produced at that time” and the radical issues concerning Live Art within our perceptions of the gallery space. He was already incubating the beginnings of ideas concerning ‘visual dialogue’ and the promotion of ‘live art’ in galleries which included the practical involvement of the audience and other artists in the creative process.  His student work was innovative and at times was discomforting to both his tutors and other students. Armed with his ‘tool box’, a small brown suitcase, containing string, tape, staple gun, chalk etc., he would create on the spot ‘installations’, both in the college and the surrounding urban environment, using only ‘found materials’ – the general detritus of human life. Major influences during this formative period were John Cage and Joseph Beuys (both of whom he took the opportunity to meet and talk with on their visit to Liverpool) as well as Robert Rauchenberg, Claes Oldenberg and Klaus Rinke who all regarded the every day world as a source of art.  The ‘Live Work’ show demonstrated the value of expanding the scope of live art in the future and made concrete Duffy’s ideas concerning ‘visual dialogue’.

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