Dailey’s evolution as an artist was greatly influenced by the milieu in Los Angeles in the 1970s where his career began. This was a period of explosive creative activity in California where artists up and down the West Coast of the United States were engaged in a dynamic process of questioning and experimentation that led to the proliferation of new and divergent genres, mediums, and modes of production. They incorporated new materials and technologies, creating hybrid forms of creative expression that challenged conventional notions of making art and profoundly influenced the direction artistic practices would take in the ensuing years. Working within the framework of great social discord and a sense of disillusionment during the post-Vietnam War era, these artists questioned their own political and social roles and pushed the boundaries of the concept of art itself.
The pioneering employment of alternative approaches to art making embraced by this community of artists is evident in Dailey’s installation and performances from this period in which the political and social challenges of the time are reflected. Key to understanding his performance pieces is the emphasis he puts on viewers engaging with the works as active participants rather than passive spectators. Represented here in replicas and architectural renderings, these installations and performances are on display for the first time since they originally appeared in Los Angeles in the 1970s. As such, they provide a unique opportunity for understanding the artist’s current work as a continuum of the creative concerns occupying him since his earliest practice.