Mel Chin and Helen Nagge: Primetime Contemporary Art



Primetime Contemporary Art is a publication documenting 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.

Mel Chin initiated the loose collective of artists known as the GALA Committee in 1995 in response to an invitation to participate in an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The artist arranged with the producers of Melrose Place for the collective to create objects for the soap opera, resulting in an extensive series of political works used as plot devices and props across two seasons of the show. The GALA Committee’s intervention provided surreptitious commentary on reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, the Gulf War, domestic terrorism, corporate malfeasance, and substance abuse, among other issues. Despite some of these topics having been banned by the FCC at the time, the group’s political critiques went unnoticed by censors, subverting corporate and government controls of primetime television with a progressive agenda.

These works were exhibited in 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, created by Chin and Helen Nagge, was used as the auction catalog for the evening, documented the artwork produced for the exhibition, and articulated the conceptual framework of the GALA Committee.

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