The Incorrect Museum: Museum of Conceptual Art


In 1970, Tom Marioni founded the Museum of Conceptual Art (MOCA) in San Francisco. On the opening night, he presented the exhibition Sound Sculpture As, which included a range of sound-based installations. Marioni announced to the crowd that he would perform Allan Fishโ€™s Piss Piece for himโ€”then climbed a ladder, faced the wall, and urinated into a bucket below. As the metallic bucket filled, the pitch of the sound changed, manifesting the work art. Unbeknownst to the audience, Marioni was, in fact, Allan Fish. He used the pseudonym when performing in the exhibitions he curated.

In the coming years, MOCA became a convening ground for the artists who defined the Bay Areaโ€™s unique approach to conceptual art. While conceptual artists in New York focused on language and systems, Marioni and his circle focused on โ€œactions,โ€ using humor and the artistโ€™s body to challenge the sterile aesthetics of the New York conceptualists. The exhibitions at MOCA combined site-specific installation with performance, or โ€œactions,โ€ and included artists such as Paul Kos, Chris Burden, Bruce Nauman, Terry Fox and Linda Montano.

These artists often convened at MOCA for Marioniโ€™s Wednesday night free beer salons. These gatheringsโ€”where artists drank, laughed and discussed ideasโ€”were conceived by Marioni as โ€œsocial artworks,โ€ meant to blur the boundaries between art and life.


David Ireland, ๐˜œ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ, 1994, 35 ร— 17 ร— 20 inches.

artworks in museum of conceptual art

origins: museum of conceptual art