BEYOND THE DREAM SYNDICATE: TONY CONRAD AND THE ARTS AFTER CAGE by Branden W. Joseph
Zone books, 2008 First edition, 479pp., 6 1/2" X 9 1/4" Hardcover
Tony Conrad is exemplary of the 1960s artist who remains inassimilable to canonic histories. Creator of the “structural” film, The Flicker, collaborator on Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures and Normal Love, follower of Henry Flynt’s radical anti-art, member of the Theatre of Eternal Music and the first incarnation of The Velvet Underground, and early associate of Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, and Cindy Sherman, Conrad has significantly impacted cultural developments from minimalism to underground film, “concept art,” postmodern appropriation, and the most sophisticated rock and roll. Yet Beyond the Dream Syndicate does not claim Conrad as a major but under-recognized figure.
Rather, by drawing on Deleuzian notions of the “minor” and the Foucauldian problematization of authorship found in Conrad’s own artistic/musical project, Early Minimalism, it disperses him into an “author function.” Neither monograph nor social history, the book takes Conrad’s collaborative interactions as a guiding thread by which to investigate the contiguous networks and discursive interconnections amongst the arts of the time.