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Bonington Vitrines #19: Control Magazine

Accompanying Stephen Willats’ exhibition Social Resource for Tennis Clubs in the Gallery, we are pleased to dedicate our Vitrines to Control Magazine – the pioneering journal that Stephen founded in 1965, and continues to publish and edit to this day.

Control Magazine’s focus has always been to provide a resource for artists to discuss their work and, in particular, to make connections with other disciplines including social or computer sciences and technology. Across 21 issues, the magazine has published work and writing by over 150 artists, including John Latham, Roy Ascot, Anthony Benjamin, Dan Graham, Mary Kelly, Helen Chadwick, Tony Cragg, Dennis Adams, Lawrence Weiner, Anish Kapoor, Martha Rosler and Jeremy Deller.

In this presentation we’re displaying issues 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 which cover the period of time that Stephen lived and worked in Nottingham, producing such projects as Man from the Twenty First Century (1971) and Social Resource Project for Tennis Clubs (1971/2).

Alongside this Vitrines exhibition, we are also delighted to display two new acquisitions to Nottingham Trent University’s art collection. Firstly Art Cognition Manifesto (1969) that Stephen produced and printed here in the Bonington Building and was distributed to various art schools around the country. This continued a tradition of manifesto writing that Stephen had begun in the early 1960s that attempted to shape the thinking of the art community.

The second is The Telephone Conversation, 1974. Although produced 1 – 2 years after Stephen left Nottingham, this interactive work involves several people associated with NTU and was very much informed by the ideas Stephen had been exploring in the city. The work concerns the relativity of people’s perceptions of each other, and the interactive worksheet allows the viewer/participant to construct a model of the situation that reflects their own experience, beliefs and behaviours. Stephen recently stated that his work in the 1970s all came from this singular piece.

Image: Control Magazine Issues 13 and 17, Stephen Willats