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Terry Smith was one of the curators of the exhibition Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s, held at the Queens Museum in 1999. In chapter 4, his catalog essay, he argues that the exhibition demonstrates the simultaneous emergence of a conceptual questioning of the nature of art by artists active in a number of places around the world, not only in prominent art centers such as New York. Many innovative artists active there were transients from peripheral cultures, to which they later returned. The essay outlines the emergence of avant-garde practices in the 1960s, based on a belief that extreme and fundamental innovation was possible in provincial art settings. It defines conceptualism as art that shifted the register of reference from locality to internationalism, which threw perception into doubt, and which fundamentally questioned the nature of artistic possibility. It concentrates on the contribution of artists from Australia and New Zealand.

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