Primetime Contemporary Art: Art by the GALA Committee as Seen on Melrose Place

Mel Chin and Helen Nagge

Primetime Contemporary Art is a publication documenting In the Name of the Place, a radical, two-year intervention by the GALA Committee on the primetime television show Melrose Place. Originally published in a limited run in 1998, this extremely rare artist book is reproduced here for the first time as a facsimile edition.

Responding to an invitation to participate in Uncommon Sense, an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 1995 Mel Chin initiated the loose collective of artists known as the GALA Committee and arranged with the producers of the soap opera to create objects for the show. What resulted was an extensive series of political works used as plot devices and props across two seasons of Melrose Place, providing surreptitious commentary on reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, the Gulf War, domestic terrorism, corporate malfeasance, and substance abuse, among others. Some of these topics were banned by the FCC at the time, and the group’s works allowed for the artists and the show to create political commentary that went unnoticed by censors, subverting corporate and government controls of primetime television with a progressive agenda. These works were exhibited Uncommon Sense at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1997 and then sold at an auction at Sotheby’s to support several charities. Primetime Contemporary Art was created by Chin and Helen Nagge as a mock auction catalog, which they used to document the artwork produced for the show, as well as the conceptual framework of the GALA Committee.

Mel Chin was born in Houston, Texas and is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork, and works that enlist science as an aesthetic component to developing complex ideas. He pioneered “green remediation” in his 1990 project, Revival Field; presented his proposal for a New World Trade Center as part of the American representation at the 2002 Venice Biennale of Architecture; won a Pedro Sienna Award for Animation in Chile for his 2017 film, 9-11/9-11; and founded S.O.U.R.C.E. Studio in 2017 to realize sustained engagements with community and environment. In 2018, he presented Unmoored and Wake in Times Square, New York City, creating a visual portal into a future of rising waters, and had a forty-year-survey exhibition at the Queens Museum. He is the recipient of many awards, grants, and honorary degrees, including the MacArthur Fellowship in 2019, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021.

40 pages
8.5 x 11 inches
Edition of 2500
Spring 2023
ISBN: 9781737797975

Managing Editor: Rachel Valinsky
Managing Designer: Siiri Tännler