Artist Writing: In the Name of the Place

IN THE NAME OF THE PLACE, by the GALA Committee, 1997


The southern California television studios have dramatically shaped the face of global cultural consumption and attitude through the embedded promotion of U.S. goods and lifestyles. The GALA Committee sought to work with commercial television by actively approaching it as a proper site in which to develop possibilities for education, to generate the transfer of information, and to layer narratives and poetic constructions. In the Name of the Place can be considered a blueprint for the development of the geography of culture on multiple levels.  ____The GALA Committee, 1997

Conceived as a viral, conceptual, public artwork to be conducted on primetime television, the project, entitled In the Name of the Place, found its host on television’s soap opera, Melrose Place. Free from gallery walls, this collective effort by scholars, artists, students, faculty, and television producers continues to air through global syndication. The GALA Committee was formed at the University of Georgia and California Institute of the Arts (“GA” for Georgia and “LA” for Los Angeles) to create props and make slight script revisions and adjustments as “product placements” not in service to commercial interests but to initiate the possibility of using the medium to assist in the generational transfer of ideas.

The project was also conceived as a collective thus removing solo authorship. It relied on collective invention and cooperative presentation by the producers of both art and television.

Getting works broadcast to millions through television was not the only venue for the project. In the Name of the Place was presented in an exhibition at MOCA in Los Angeles and at an auction at Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills. The proceeds from the auction were given to educational charities in Georgia and California.

This project of covert insertion was not intended to be subversive, but to offer a blueprint on how artists can collaborate with commercial production from the “inside.” During the last fifty years television has been routinely criticized and commented on as dedicated to consumption and control. In this project we sought to enhance content and context and to deliver art on weekly global telecasts.