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Stephen Willats, A to B, 1985. Courtesy the artist.

Since the early 1960s, the pioneering British conceptual artist Stephen Willats (b. London, 1943) has seen his work as a social process, establishing an approach to art practice that has led him beyond the confines of studio, gallery, and institution and into social spaces outside the art context. Engaging different participants is central to his artistic work. This interactive approach has led him to realize projects in the actual settings where people’s lifes are lived, focusing on creative and productive responses to social polemics. Modernist housing complexes of the postwar decades, the experimental underground club scene, or places on London’s urban periphery where teenagers find refuge from the pressures of their lifes: these are the scenes where Willats explores creative behaviours that serve to recode society’s norms and conventions. Developing his participatory approach, he looked beyond art to find tools in other disciplines concerned with communication, looking at studies in the theory of semiotics, behaviour and learning and then in cybernetics.

Curated by Heike Munder (director, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst), the exhibition is accompanied by a monograph with essays by Bronac Ferran, John Kelsey, Andrew Wilson, and Heike Munder.


Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Limmatstrasse 270
8005 Zurich


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